The Tories and St Cross

First, an update on Mark Pawsey MP. Apparently he went to see the Trust heads about their proposals to cut the A&E department at St Cross Hospital. Let’s see how influential he is.

Before the election, Mr Pawsey was clear about his commitment to services at St Cross. He had the shadow Health Secretary of the time (and of course, now the actual Secretary of State), Andrew Lansley, come up to the town to campaign. At the end of the day, our MP can only get any concessions or changes if the Health Secretary is amenable to them

Before the election, Lansley said that he had seen the plans that would retain the emergency department. After the election, these plans involve at the very least removing the overnight provision, and possibly the whole thing. So it would be nice to know what it was that he saw.

Before the election, Lansley said that he would stop all proposals to remove services from district hospitals like St Cross until after a proper review had taken place. But these proposals are now going to be consulted on, so clearly he has not put a moratorium on them.

(source for last two paragraphs : Coventry Telegraph.)

Mind you, this is the same Andrew Lansley who before the election promised no large-scale changes to the NHS imposed from the centre, and today announced the policy to… massively change the way that the NHS is run by forcing GPs to hold the purse-strings. It’s also the same Andrew Lansley who flipped his house for profit and tried to get the taxpayer to fund improvements that increased the value.

Seen this, Pawsey?

In my last post I mentioned the Gove affair. While there’s loads of attention being paid to his four (at last count) incorrect lists of school building projects being cancelled and his subsequent apologies, I don’t need to dwell on that for the moment.

And I will only briefly mention the stupidity of the policy in the first place. To cancel projects to build new schools (some of which had been running for years and were very close to signing contracts, and some were based on plans covering large areas which will now need to be torn up), simply to help pay for the seed money for another bunch of new schools to be set up by middle class parents and private companies – these being ‘Free Schools’ they can be run for profit – is not actually going to save any money. But it does satisfy the ideological free marketeers of the Tory Party, so it will happen.

No, what I want to focus on is a local MP who has seen his area affected and has almost immediately announced plans to march on Downing Street in protest. Ian Liddell-Grainger, whose Somerset constituency has been affected by the Gove cuts in that at least three schools will not now be built there as planned, is a Tory. Clearly he’s got a bit of a problem with reconciling his support for a government making cuts all across the country and fighting hard to avoid cuts in his own area. Perhaps he doesn’t understand Tory policy in enough detail, or didn’t realise that the new government wasn’t only going to clobber Labour voting areas.

But at least he is going to represent his constituents and make a proper show of fighting against cuts. I look forward to Rugby’s Mark Pawsey taking note and doing something about St Cross A&E

Hospital Parking – for free?

I had been meaning to post something about Hospital parking charges. Locally, Andy King has an ongoing campaign on the issue, and a couple of weeks ago I saw Mike Ion’s post calling for a change at a national level. However, my laziness meant that it’s only now that Andy Burnham has announced a rethink by the government that I’ve gotten around to it.

What Burnham has announced will only really affect inpatients and their visitors – the idea is that for the duration of their stay, an inpatient will get the means for family or friends to get free parking. Outpatients (some of whom do need to visit hospital very frequently) won’t benefit. Still, it is a step in the right direction.

The cost should not affect hospital or other health spending, however (not a problem at the moment, as the NHS is running at a surplus of about 10 times the amount made from parking charges).

I would prefer it if parking could be free for all patients and those who visit them regularly. However, there are pitfalls involved in that approach, especially in locations near to town centres where parking is at a premium – it should be ensured that commuters and shoppers don’t take up all the free spaces. I’m sure there are ways to do it – after all, you can get free parking at Asda if you shop there, simply by getting a ticket validated.