At this week’s Special Meeting of Southend Council’s People Scrutiny Committee (20/12/16), I put questions to the committee concerning the very likely prospect of Southend hospital having its A&E services downgraded under the proposals set out by the Mid and South Essex Success Regime & STP. Looking at the range of options offered within the latest report, there will inevitably only be one, Type 1 hospital providing Specialist Emergency care out of Southend, Basildon and Chelmsford hospitals. The other two hospitals will be downgraded to either Type 2 or even possibly Type 3 hospitals, providing only basic emergency care. This means patients in need of complicated emergency treatment having to be taken many miles across Essex’s often very congested roads for highly time-critical life saving treatment.
I sought assurances from the Executive Councillor for Health & Adult Social Care, Cllr Lesley Salter, that the Committee would recommend the Council should reject any plans that would risk the health and lives of any of the people of Southend in what, on the face of it, appears to be a Tory government plan to cut £22 billion from NHS spending. I was told “that the Council will only support proposals which will lead to improvements in health service in our area.” This sentiment was echoed by the Committee’s chairman, Cllr James Moyies. I hope these Councillors stick by their words, stand up for the people of Southend and protect our precious NHS when the time comes.
You can see for yourself the latest report – here – The proposed types of hospitals are explained on page 23, with the options for how Southend, Basildon and Chelmsford could be configured on page 25.
After the meeting Cllr Cheryl Nevin (Labour) presented a petition from the Southend branch of Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), signed by over 900 residents of Southend, opposing these cuts to our local NHS services.
Would the relevant officer/post holder agree with me that all of the proposed options for the configuration of new types of hospitals, contained within the Mid and South Essex Success Regime STP, will inevitably lead to at least a two tier, and possibly three tier, standard of accident and emergency medical provision for residents within this region?
I would firstly like to thank Mr Fieldhouse for his questions about the Mid & South Essex Success Regime and STP. This is an important issue and I do understand the concerns expressed.
As I sure we all do, I want good health service for Southend. The plans are still at the pre consultation stage however and as I understand it, no decisions have yet been taken. Any proposals for service change will be the subject of full consultation by NHS England. Scrutiny as well as other stake holders will be able to respond to the consultation as will members of the public, to judge the proposals on their merit.
I would like to reassure you that at this stage i will need to be comfortable with what is proposed. I start from the position that the Council will only support proposals which will lead to improvements in the health service in out area.
By its very nature, emergency care is time critical and the prospect of already overstretched emergency vehicles transporting gravely ill patients from Southend to Basildon or Chelmsford along often heavily congested roads can surely not benefit those patients. In view of this, will the relevant officer/post holder also agree with me that, in the best interests of the town’s residents, the Committee should propose the rejection of the purely cost cutting recommendations of this plan to ensure the people of Southend will not suffer unnecessary risks to their health and lives?
As I gave in my first answer, the STP & Success Regime is still in the pre consultation phase and that there are no firm proposals in the draft plan for Southend A&E. This evening’s meeting is an opportunity to understand further what is being proposed.