Save Southend A&E Organising Meeting

Mike Fieldhouse addressing the Save Southend A&E meeting.
Mike Fieldhouse addressing the Save Southend A&E meeting. Photo: © Gaz de Vere – All Rights Reserved.

We had a fantastic turnout at our planning and organising meeting on Thursday evening, in fact we had to find a bigger venue when we realised how many people wanted to come. On the day 120 members of the public attended to hear reports of action taken so far and plans for the future to stop Southend’s A&E department being downgraded to a walk-in department where all 999 ‘blue-light’ emergencies will be taken straight to Basildon.

Save Southend A&E is non political and we welcome anyone who supports our cause regardless of their political leanings, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it is the Conservative government, led by Theresa May that is systematically dismantling and privatising our NHS.

Figures released the same day show that the NHS IS in crisis! The government has failed on all 3 of it’s NHS waiting targets for the first time ever this year!

  • More than 2.5m people waited more than four hours in A&E – up from 725,000 during 2011-12
  • Those waiting more than 62 days for cancer treatment topped 26,000 last year – nearly double the total from five years previously
  • More than 360,000 people have now waited more than 18 weeks for an operation, compared with 160,000 five years ago.
  • Parliamentary Labour Candidate for Southend West at the meeting.
    Parliamentary Labour Candidate for Southend West, Julian Ware-Lane at the meeting.Photo: © Gaz de Vere – All Rights Reserved.

    In Southend we are opposing the Sustainability & Transformation Plan for Mid & South Essex, or STP, which is a broad-reaching plan for reconfiguration of health services in our area.

    Part of this plan is to downgrade our A&E dept in Southend as well as in Chelmsford, whilst putting extra pressure on the already strained Basildon hospital and is yet another attempt to bring the NHS to its knees so that the government can dish out lucrative contracts to tax exiles like Richard Branson and other Tory party donors.

    Despite claims that this is a cost-driven exercise, I’ve spoken to top clinical professionals that tell me on the contrary, more doctors, specialist nurses and consultants will be needed to staff the proposals put before us now.

    The NHS is unable to fill the vacancies it has at the moment, it won’t be able to fill extra ones.
    Our ambulance service in the East of England has around 100 vacancies and, whereas 20 years ago you would expect to find 2 highly trained and experienced paramedics on each ambulance crew, now you’re lucky if there’s one with many crews operating without any!

    The whole plan is riddled with weak or suspect evidence to back up their claims.

    I’ve asked questions at Council meetings and scrutiny meetings.
    I’ve spoken to the papers and they’ve printed the real story behind these plans.
    I’ve contacted university professors and researchers in the field of emergency transport – and they tell me, based on their figures that 16 extra people will die for every 1,000 emergency ambulance trips that go to Basildon instead of Southend. That’s going to work out at somewhere between 80 and 100 of YOU – people from Southend EVERY year.

    Whenever the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or Essex Success Regime or Executive Councillor for Health & Adult Social Care on Southend Borough Council (Lesley Salter) are asked a question, it’s always brushed aside with the answer that these are just proposals and no decisions have been made.
    Well it’s looking pretty certain that the decisions have been made. Even if they won’t admit it, and we have to go through the charade of plans being scrutinised by various committees then put out for public consultation.

    And you know what? They won’t take a blind bit of notice what we say individually. We’ll be fobbed off again with unsubstantiated ‘evidence’, promises of pie in the sky and patronising remarks implying we don’t really understand.
    But I tell you we DO understand! :

    We understand that our National Health Service that has stood for over 70 years to provide the best care know to man for every citizen of this country, is slowly being destroyed.

    We understand that this government is trying to pull the wool over our eyes, and sneak these changes through by stealth and cunning.

    And we do understand that it’s time to say NO – enough is enough – you can’t do this!

    Together, as one, we can stand up and resist the government. We can make our council and our MPs take notice and we CAN stop the destruction of our Accident & Emergency services, and in doing so can help prevent the deaths of countless 1,000s of our friends, family and fellow citizens over the years to come.

    This is only the start of our campaign.

    Next Saturday we have a march through Southend High St and I hope to see dozens of people there, showing our unity and demonstrating that they won’t accept these plans.

    From there we need to keep piling on the pressure, making more and more people aware of what’s happening and gathering more supporters so that when these plans do finally come out for public consultation later in the year we can speak with one deafening voice and tell them – ‘NO!’

    Please join the march next Saturday 20th May. It starts at 12pm from the bottom of the High St/Top of Pier Hill.
    Please brings as many friends and family as you can. Make your own placards and banners to tell the government what YOU think of their plans.

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