Thursday 18 January 2007

Call for a Moratorium in Health Cuts

As I have been touring round the country speaking at meeting after meeting in many areas people have been attending from local health campaigns explaining what is happening on the ground to their local NHS.

The story is pretty bleak with cuts in staffing, reductions in hospital beds, and threatened closures of Accident and Emergency Departments, Maternity Units and mental health services.

Understandably this is causing real consternation amongst local communities
and is damaging morale amongst health workers.

The cuts stem friom the various strategic reviews instigated by the Government, the NHS funding formula and the various privatisations and outsourcing which are being forced through. This includes the diversion of NHS funds into expensive private treament centres.

The cuts have provoked protests around the country with local community led campaigns being set up often linking up nationally through the "Keep the NHS Public" and "London Health Emergency" campaigning organisations. Ironically even Cabinet Ministers have joined local protests from John Reid to Hazel Blears.

One of the common complaints raised with me at meetings is that these cuts are being rushed through without proper local community involvement or national consultations and without adequate thought for the long term consequences of the closures of local A and E, Maternity and mental health units or the staffing cuts.

For this reason and in response to the many appeals made to me at local meetings I have tabled yesterday in Parliament an Early Day Motion calling for a moratorium in the implementation of these cuts pending an independent review of the long term strategy for critical care services, the NHS funding formula and privatisation policies, fully involving health care staff and local communities.

This would give the Government and all of us the opportunity of looking again at the impact of these large scale cuts and to assess where these policies are leading to in terms of the long term future of the NHS.

I would urge everyone to press their Member of Parliament to sign this EDM so that we can press the Government to act. The EDM is number 655, entitled "Moratorium in Health Cuts."

I have also called an open meeting in Parliament on the NHS cuts to bring together local and national campaigning groups and trade unions to lobby MPs for the moratorium. The meeting is at 7pm on 27 February in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Westminster.

Come along to help press for action.