In 2013, campaigners fighting to save Lewisham Hospital from closure scored an important victory when they won a court action preventing their local health authority from implementing a closure plan.
The government’s response was almost immediate, with secretary of state Jeremy Hunt introducing an additional clause to the Health and Social Care Act, clause 118, which enables an administrator to recommend the closure or downgrading of any other hospital that just happens to be anywhere near a ‘failing’ trust. There will be no real local consultation and the wishes of local clinicians, service workers or service users can be ignored.
Essentially this government diktat will further erode the health service, which is already suffering as a result both of the impact of Health and Social Care Act (which opened up the NHS to ‘competition’ from private health providers) and £20 billion worth of cuts.
The fight for the NHS and the fight to retain Southlands as a hospital continues, but the scale of the attack by the government can best be described by the deputy chair of the BMA council: “The new NHS act has not just repealed society’s contract with the health service, but it has made the NHS a repository of privateers with the mindset of venture capitalists.
“For the entire length of 2013, the NHS came under relentless attack on grounds of ‘quality’ by politicians and the right-wing press, driving the privatisation agenda.
“I believe it will be a completely different healthcare system in five years time – one which will be much worse in terms of access, equity, health outcomes and cost.”
That is what the future holds unless we are able to turn the tide on this government and its attacks on the NHS, and on local health service provision.
Sussex Defend the NHS
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