Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Fit for whose Future?
The West Sussex Primary Care Trust has for the last few months been preparing proposals for the re-configuration of local Health Care provision in conjunction with its sister Organisation in East Sussex and others under the close supervision of the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority led by their delightful CEO Candy Morris.
The published aim is to prepare an NHS Fit for the Future taking into account Clinical Priorities, National Policy, Demographic Changes and of course financial considerations.
What this will mean in practice is the closing of at least one local hospital (Southlands) and the downgrading of another by the loss of potentially A&E and Maternity Units (at either Worthing or Chichester). Some consolidation of Crawley Hospital and the Princess Royal has also been suggested.
Land and buildings across the county have already been sold to private contractors or negotiations are underway.
There will be a Public Consultation on the general reconfiguration of services. The original date for publication was due to have been in January but ever efficient there have been some delays.
However it was recently announced by the Strategic Health Authority that the consultation document which will detail the PCT's latest thinking about how hospital services in the county will be reconfigured will not now be published until after the local government elections which takes place on May 3rd.
The excuse given is that the Chairmen of the Council Health Overview & Scrutiny Committees need more time to prepare. The timing will also apply to Brighton & Hove City consultation. However, there is no such delay for proposals for east Sussex where the consultation documents are likely to be published on or around March 12th.
If the considerations were purely based on the needs of Healthcare within Sussex then that date of publication should be as soon as possible and not informed by the dates of the local elections. As this is quite clearly not the case one can only assume that the news is going to be bad and to protect sitting Labour counsellors and minimise the backlash the date of the consultation has been delayed.
I have tried to determine if Candy Morris’s political affiliation is anywhere on record but have not as yet had any success. With a few Labour held marginal wards and parliamentary constituencies in the area it’s obvious that the concerns of the Labour Party are now honed in only on their own electoral survival and not the needs of local people. The only surprise is that I don’t think anyone will be anymore.
The political arm of the British people.. oh indeed.