Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I am really grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate, because it has particular relevance to my constituency. My mum came from Ireland to London in 1948 to train in the first generation of NHS nurses. She spent her whole working life as a state-enrolled nurse in large, long-stay mental health hospitals. She loved her patients. She loved the NHS. She loved her country, which gave her the opportunity to work and raise her family. The same cannot be said for her views on Mrs Margaret Thatcher, who she blamed for making her redundant in the early 1980s, when my sister Margaret and I were still at university.
My mum had a phrase: “Much gets more”—those who have get more, and those who have little get least. We know that the life expectancy of more well-off people is getting longer, with longer periods of good health. We know that the life expectancy of poorer people is going down—in the 21st century!—and the period that they live in ill health is getting longer. We also know that those who are well off have better GP services. We know that poorer people access the NHS in different ways, often via A&E, so one would have thought that the moneys for acute services would be allocated to the poorest areas.
That brings me back to my mum’s phrase “Much gets more”, because in my constituency, my local NHS trust is still consulting on a plan that moves the A&E, the maternity unit, paediatric services and in-house surgery from St Helier Hospital to Belmont. To those who have more, more will be given. So what is the answer? The answer appears to be, from the trust’s deprivation research, to be partial with the truth.
The Minister will know that our constituencies are broken down into areas called lower layer super output areas, which are ranked by levels of deprivation, so that those relocating health services can consider the impact that their decision will have on the most deprived communities. The latest consultation in my area acknowledges that requirement and has even produced a deprivation impact analysis. The title is promising, but the contents are utterly bewildering.
The statistical reality is that, of the 51 most deprived lower layer super output areas in the catchment area, just one is nearer to the site in Belmont that the NHS wants. Meanwhile, 42 out of 51 are nearer to St Helier Hospital, which affects my constituency. Does the Minister agree that acute hospital services should be based where they are most needed and that deprived communities must not be negatively and disproportionately impacted? If so, now that I have put the flawed evidence on record, does he agree that the consultation should review the deprivation analysis before proceeding further? What is more, the consultation assumes that my constituents will travel to the new site, regardless of where it is, but they will not. These plans will put severe pressure on St George’s and Croydon University Hospital, both of which are regarded as having too many people arrive at them right now.
Let me make this clear: I am providing concrete examples of missing and flawed evidence in the consultation analysis, and yet that same analysis has been used to determine Belmont as the preferred site for capital funding. Will the Minister meet me urgently to discuss these proposals? I appeal to him to step in before another penny of taxpayers’ money is spent on this bogus consultation. I hope that my mum’s phrase “Much gets more” is not true of the NHS in south-west London, but Breda was normally right about everything.