Yesterday organisers of Walk for the NHS went to Calderdale Royal Hospital to hand out their flyers in public areas of the hospital, but were told by the duty manager Paula Rosbottom that they needed permission from the Communications Office to do so.
Before the duty manager told Walk for the NHS organisers and supporters to leave the hospital site, people were very happy to take the flyers and were keen to talk about how they value the hospital services and wish to make sure that they continue to provide excellent care for patients and their families. This is the aim of Walk for the NHS.
The duty manager told Walk for the NHS they were free to hand out their flyers outside the entrance to the hospital site, which they did.
In contrast, Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust chief executive Maggie Oldham has offered Occupy Stafford Hospital protesters the use of the hospital’s toilets while they are camping on the hospital site. Occupy Stafford Hospital campaigners are protesting at controversial plans to move some services out of Stafford Hospital when the Mid Staffs Trust is dissolved in November. They say the loss of services including maternity and paediatrics could put lives at risk if patients have to travel to Stoke or Wolverhampton.
Walk for the NHS 22nd /23rd August, to join the main Jarrow-London Call999 for the NHS march in Wakefield
Walk for the NHS is inviting people to join their walk from Halifax hospital to Huddersfield hospital, on to Dewsbury hospital and from there to Wakefield, to join up with the main Call999 for the NHS Jarrow-London march. People are welcome to walk for any distance. The first leg of the walk, Halifax to Dewsbury, is on 22nd August and Dewsbury to Wakefield is on 23rd August.
Walk for the NHS organiser Katherine Horner said,
“When the Duty Manager told us we had to leave the site, I asked if this was because we hadn’t asked permission to hand out our flyers. She told me, ‘It’s because we don’t want you here.’ That doesn’t seem like a very good reason to me.”
Hospitals Trust is strapped for cash as a result of enforced “efficiency savings” – a euphemism for “cuts”
At the hospital, people told Walk for the NHS organisers and supporters that they are anxious about the emphasis on money rather than patient care, which seems to be driving the hospitals Trust managers at the moment.
Outside the entrance to the hospital site, where Walk for the NHS ended up handing out their flyers, one staff member said,
“I don’t want to work for an organisation where money’s more important than care.”
Under changes introduced by the Coalition government in 2010, the Trust has to make 4% efficiency savings – effectively funding cuts – each year. As a result, the Trust faces a £20m shortfall this financial year. Between 2015 and 2020 it will lose £80m from its budget.
As the Calderdale population grows and pharmaceutical and other key health service costs rise, this has put a serious strain on the Trust. In 2010, the Trust estimated it would have to lose 440 jobs to make the required “efficiency savings”. Further job losses are planned for this financial year, in a leaked Trust report on how to make up for the £20m funding cuts this year.
The costly Private Finance Initiative repayments and payments for maintenance and “housekeeping” services take around 10% of the entire NHS budget for Calderdale each year.
A member of the public said she wanted to know what was going to become of the hospital, if the A&E is downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit and the hospital is turned into a small 87 bed planned care clinic. These are the proposals in the Trust’s preferred option for service changes.
Given the interest from staff and members of the public, Walk for the NHS organisers have asked for permission for 2-3 members of the Walk for the NHS group to hand out their flyers outside the entrance to the A&E and in the hospital car parks and public cafe next Sunday. Failing that, they intend to stand outside the site entrance to share their information.