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Sunday 21st May 2017

Mike Fieldhouse

  • Save Southend A&E March & Rally

    It was an amazing sight to see on Saturday as 100’s of local people marched down Southend High St to demonstrate their opposition to government plans to downgrade Southend’s A&E department. I can’t thank all those 100’s of people enough for making this event such a huge success, and as the secretary of Save Southend A&E campaign I am privileged to work with a fantastic and truly dedicated group of people whom have all worked so hard over the past weeks to make this happen.
    When we first discussed the idea of this march, barely six weeks ago, we were concerned we might only get a handful of people attend – some estimates put the number yesterday at 1,000 and the massive response we’ve had to our campaign is testament to the strength of feeling and passion that people have in defending OUR NHS.
    Our message is simple – we oppose the restructuring of A&E departments in Mid & South Essex and the downgrading of Southend A&E department to a walk-in centre that will not accept 999 blue-light ambulances (either at night or at all). We oppose this because it is not a clinically-driven plan.
    NHS managers and politicians in favour of these plans sidestep questions by saying “Southend A&E will still be open 24/7” – we know that, but it will be not much more than a minor injuries facility and no doctors, nurses or consultants specialising in emergency treatment will want to work there – it would be like Sherlock Holmes working as a traffic cop.
    The same people say “It’s clinically driven and patients will benefit – we already by-pass Southend for Basildon with heart attack sufferers.” Top clinicians working on the frontline in Southend A&E tell us these plans are madness but if they speak out their jobs and careers would be finished. One specific type of heart attack patient will go directly to Basildon if it can be diagnosed by the ambulance crew – an ST-elevated myocardial infarction – in a normal week this would account for 1 or 2 patients and we do not dispute that this is the right and clinically proven course of action – for these few of patients.
    Remember too that far fewer ambulances have a qualified paramedic on board than there were 20 years ago. Back then most crews had two paramedics, now many do not have even one.
    Basildon will NOT BECOME A MAJOR TRAUMA CENTRE. If plans go ahead as they are currently recommended, Basildon will just become a very busy A&E department – possibly the busiest in the whole country. Major trauma cases from road traffic accidents and the like will still be taken to the Major Trauma Centres (MTC) at Addenbrookes or the Royal London as they are done now. To be a MTC a hospital would need a specialist neurosurgery unit which Basildon hasn’t got and isn’t going to get.
    The job of our campaign is to raise awareness of what the government is trying to do – to do that we need YOU, the people, to spread the word and tell everyone in Southend and the surrounding area what is really happening.
    You can see how Conservative MPs like James Duddridge and David Amess, and Councillors like Leslie Salter (Exec Cllr for Health & Adult Social Care) are trying to fob us off with spin and avoidance. Don’t allow people to believe what they say – tell them the truth. Together we can fight these plans and stand a chance of defeating them and stop the destruction of our health service!
    This is just the start of our campaign and there is a very long way to go, but together we can do it.
    [A special mention for Tony at Tang’s Oriental Buffet who helped us massively by letting us use their electricity to power our PA when we couldn’t access the to the Council’s power sockets in the street – I’ve eaten at Tang’s several times and it’s great food and amazing value!]

Friday 12th May 2017


  • NHS frontline staff hit the election campaign trail

    NHS Roadshow
    NHS staff are launching a massive general election national roadshow to highlight the plight of the NHS under the Conservative Government and to get the public to vote for the NHS on 8 June.
    The NHS roadshow has been set up by a collective of passionate and concerned NHS doctors, nurses, consultants, other staff and NHS campaigners who have decided to speak out about what is really happening in the nation’s hospitals under the Conservatives. 
    The aim of the roadshows is to help voters make an informed decision about who they put their cross next to in the general election. With the NHS ranked as the number one concern of the public, the roadshows will shed light on what is really going on in their hospitals. The aim is to make it clear that the NHS can only be safeguarded by voting out this Conservative Government.
    NHS Roadshow is a national campaign of public events using social media and the power of the public to explain why a vote for the Conservatives is a vote to destroy the NHS. It will highlight the fact that due to Conservative policies NHS hospitals are permanently struggling to deliver the health care that the NHS was set up to deliver. As a consequence the British public are suffering with services being cut back, closed or sold off.  The NHS roadshow message is crystal clear – the NHS is at ‘condition critical’ and it can only deteriorate under another five years of Conservative rule.
    A key campaign message is that the NHS is not for sale and it shouldn’t be cut back or squeezed in the name of efficiency savings or profit for the private sector. The result will be terrifying with people dying on beds in hospital corridors, rising child mortality deaths, bed blocking, cancelled operations and harmful waits for cancer drugs. Using the personal experiences of frontline NHS professionals, the roadshow will say that all of this is happening now, in 2017, under a Conservative government.
    NHS Roadshow campaigners are urging everyone who wants to save the NHS to come along to an event and hear what NHS staff have to say, pass on experiences, and more importantly spread the word.
    The NHS Roadshow campaign will launch on Saturday 13 May at 11am with an event in Croydon. NHS staff with the campaign ambulance will be at Croydon Town Hall to speak to the public and then at 12.15pm will join the May Day parade to Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, Croydon CR0 1BD.
    There are four weeks to reach as many people as possible
    There are four weeks to convince everyone to vote for the NHS.
    There are four weeks to persuade the public this means a vote to end this Conservative government.

    Link to NHS roadshow Facebook group:
    For more info:

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Friday 28th April 2017

  • STP in disguise: now you see it, now you don’t

    The North East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) area has decided to change its name to  East London Health and Care Partnership.
    This became clear in the middle of a presentation to a Hackney Healthwatch meeting in mid February, when the accompanying literature suddenly printed the new name half way through the pack, with no explanation.
    The new name has been printed in STP documents prepared for scrutiny, despite the agenda items as prepared by the council still being called NEL STP.
    This is a reflection of the fact that people have finally started to hear about STPs and get concerned about them: the Unite ‘Slash Trash Privatise’ label is sticking, so they have changed the name to anodyne sounding 'Health and Care Partnership'.
    The councillors did not challenge NHS chiefs on this at the scrutiny meeting: the importance of this manoeuvre probably passed everyone by at the time.
    However we should watch out for this elsewhere and challenge it when it happens. 
    Our NEL Save our NHS group will discuss how to respond, it needs challenging.

SOHS Press release

  • SOHS calls on the Devon electorate to Save Our NHS

    County Council elections will take place on 4 May. The General Election will take place on 8 June. Save Our Hospital Services Devon (SOHS) urges the public to make hospital services and social care a top priority when considering how to vote. Here are the facts:
    • The Wider Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) will slash £550m from the county’s health budget by 2020/21. In simple terms, that means cuts. Big cuts. Lots of cuts. And the process is already well under way.
    • Across Devon, community hospitals have been decimated. The STP target was to close 190 community hospital beds. North Devon is now down to just 12 community hospital beds for a population of 170,000 people. South Devon is facing the closure of four hospitals. East Devon is losing half of all its in-patient beds.
    • A mind-boggling 400+ acute beds are being eliminated county-wide. That means beds at Derriford Hospital, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Torbay Hospital and North Devon District Hospital. Many beds have already been removed.
    • In place of acute and community hospital beds, the new model of “care closer to home” continues to be rolled out at a pace even though it remains unproven and inadequately scrutinised.
    • North Devon District Hospital is facing the potential removal or downgrading of acute services including stroke, maternity, paediatrics, neonatology and urgent & emergency care. Affected patients would have to travel up to two hours to receive vital treatment. Even one of the co-authors of the STP admits that people may die as a result!
    It’s a grim picture, but the upcoming elections represent a real opportunity to turn the tide.

    Every single voter in Devon needs to be asking tough questions of prospective councillors and MPs of all parties. And then to only vote for those who will actively defend and promote our hospital and social care services. Which essentially means one thing: scrapping the STP.
    “I believe the STP programme is destroying our local health services,” says SOHS supporter Ray Ashman. “I’ll be voting for candidates who commit to halting the programme by campaigning with SOHS Devon to stop threatened cuts – nothing more, nothing less. I urge my fellow constituents to do likewise.”
    Ultimately, health policy is driven by politicians. Ultimately, it can only be changed by politicians pressurised from below. So the will of the public must prevail at political level. And SOHS passionately believes that the Devon public can make all the difference.
    “The level of support for our campaign across Devon is extraordinary,” says SOHS Facebook Group admin Barbara Nicolson-Martin. “We have 11,000 supporters on Facebook alone. I read most of their posts and I can tell you they’re appalled by what’s happening to our hospitals. Not just that, they’re furious. That fury needs to make itself heard in the elections and I believe it will.”
    So the message is simple: however you vote, vote to save our hospital services!

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