6 September 2015
Hospital bed closures are but one – albeit massive – manifestation of the effect of Central Government spending cuts. We should be angry but not surprised at the words of Peter Heaton-Jones, published in the Journal 27 August, on the proposed closure of community hospital beds in North Devon. Mr Heaton-Jones should stop pretending he's in opposition to, rather than being a representative of a government whose blind commitment to an ideology of austerity, both when in coalition government and now free-wheeling on their own, is ultimately responsible for the "right old mess" as he patronizingly describes the situation in which our Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and North Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) now find themselves. The "right old mess" is a product of unprecedented cuts in funding (glossed as efficiency savings) and the lunacy of the purchaser/provider split, designed to facilitate private sector access to NHS contracts and services.
Over the last two weeks we have witnessed massive concern from the public on this issue. Also drastically affecting our local communities are the ongoing cuts to other public services. It seems extraordinary that a Conservative councillor, Gary Porter, chair of the cross party Local Government Association, should be berating his own party in the national press on this. But things have got that bad. Many local councillors, including leading conservatives, have now spoken out against the bed closures in North Devon. but isn't it time they addressed Westminster on this instead of the latter's messenger –our local health officials? And while they are at it, our local Tory councillors should follow up on the LGA and denounce the impossible conditions imposed on them by changes to planning, housing and employment legislation voted for by the likes of Heaton-Jones in Westminster, as well as the further 40% public spending cuts that his government propose we his constituents endure over the next five years.