The problem with the “Questions from Members of the Public” section of Southend Borough Council’s meetings is that the public has to submit the questions days in advance, leaving the Councillors plenty of time to concoct excuses, and that the public has no right to reply or ask for further information from the Councillor once their answers are given.
Last Thursday I asked Executive Cllr of Health & Adult services Lesley Salter about the fact that masses of ‘evidence’ used by the STP to back up their plans to cut services from our local hospital in Southend and concentrate them in ‘specialist centres’ in Basildon or Broomfield, was collected in the 1980′ and 90’s – or even before!
The reply I got was a complete inversion of the truth.
When I was battling against the downgrading of our A&E dept in Southend last year, I showed her a survey of data conducted by Professor Jon Nicholl and his team at Sheffield University published in 2007, with data collected between 1997 & 2001, that found for every extra 10km ambulances had to travel, as the crow flies, equates to a 1% increase in mortality for patients with life-threatening emergencies. With Basildon being about 16km from Southend, measured in a straight line, this would mean 16 extra deaths for each 1,000 journeys!
Cllr Salter said this data was out-dated, and claimed that even Prof Nichols who wrote the paper said it was out of date – that is complete rubbish! I contacted Prof Nicholls last year and this was his response:
“The main criticism of our study was that, even in 2007, the findings were out of date because ambulance services were providing interventions that in 1997-2000 would have been delayed until arrival at hospital. However, when I challenged critics to name the interventions that had been adopted by the ambulance service between 1997 and 2007 they usually struggled.”
She again claimed this data was out-dated last week, but this time going a step further and saying even the authors admit it’s outdated – complete fallacy!
Whereas in one of the two papers used to support the STP’s case that I questioned Cllr Salter about, the authors wrote:
“Because most of the studies we reviewed were based on data from the 1980s to mid-1990s, the extent to which their findings reflect current practice and volume is unclear.” [Halm et al, 2002]
It is quite obvious, whatever their claims and however many phoney ‘campaigns’ they set up to try and hoodwink the public, that this Conservative administration in Southend is very biased towards supporting the STP.
Cllr Salter has very clearly chosen not to look objectively at problems with the very week evidence that I have brought to her attention, instead favouring the STP – a Conservative government vehicle, created to cut services and spending within the NHS.
If these Councillors truly had the best interests of the people of Southend at heart, they would treat our concerns seriously instead of ploughing ahead and implementing Jeremy Hunt’s dystopian vision for the NHS.