The Socialist 16 June 2021 |
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Save Leicester General Hospital
Save Our NHS Leicestershire on a national NHS demonstration in London 30 June 2018 (Click to enlarge)
Steve Score, co-chair Save our NHS Leicestershire and Socialist Party
Leicestershire NHS bosses have made the decision to close Leicester General Hospital, one of the three main acute hospitals in Leicester, selling off most of the land, and also St Mary's Maternity unit in Melton Mowbray.
This is part of a major 'reconfiguration' involving £450 million of new investment in hospital buildings - announced when Boris Johnson falsely claimed the Tories were building '40 new hospitals'. The majority of services will now be crammed onto two sites.
The final proposals were not made available to the public until less than half an hour before the decision-making meeting! It follows a public 'consultation' held at the end of last year in the midst of lockdown, followed by months of secrecy.
£500,000 was spent on publicity, TV ads, and social media to present their case. But alternative points of view were barely heard, despite our efforts in difficult conditions. Of course, we welcome investment in buildings, but the plans do not meet the needs of local people.
Even the minimal democratic 'scrutiny' by local councillors was brushed aside as bosses claimed the decisions would be scrutinised later - but not until after they were finalised!
When plans to reorganise were originally floated, they actually involved a reduction in the overall number of beds. But, under pressure from campaigners, bed numbers were eventually revised upwards, although nowhere near enough to meet the future needs of a growing and ageing population in the area.
The Save Our NHS Leicestershire campaign has consistently raised the fact that there is insufficient hospital capacity already. But these plans will mean a reduction in capacity per head of the population in the future.
Despite a one-year 'trial' of a midwife-led maternity unit on the former site of the Leicester General, the threat remains that all maternity services will end up focused on just one hospital.
Save Our NHS Leicestershire will continue to fight to defend and improve local services. Join the protest we are organising on 3 July as part of the national day of action for an NHS workers' pay rise and against further privatisation.