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Ealing and Northfield

Hospital debate: Who was there?

I was disappointed by the hospital debate at the Town Hall yesterday evening. There was a good turnout and there were pretty much bang on 300 people there (14 rows of 24 chairs at 80%-90% full with about 20 standing). The audience unfortunately included very few “civilians” – the uninterested (meaning without interests) and the persuadable – either way. The vast majority were local politicians, health service workers and trade unionists who had come to make their points rather than listen to a debate with an open mind.

Of the 22 questions asked up to 9pm 9 were asked by local politicians (Cllrs Kaur, Kang, Dheer, Costello, Anand and Bell, MP Virendra Sharma, Ealing Southall Respect Party candidate Salvinder Dhillon and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate in the London Assembly elections Mark Benjamin. Four members of the Ealing Save Our Hospitals campaign, Dr Paramjit Sandhu, Bridget Ogden, Fran Tindall and Colin Stanfield asked questions as did Hammersmith hospitals activist James Doheny.

One chap with long hair at the back, who didn’t identify himself, told us that there were “some crooks in the room tonight” and that he didn’t “really have a question”. I met him selling copies of the Socialist Worker on my way out with another person. Similarly Tony Gill who described himself as a Hanwell resident from the West London Socialist Party was later outside with two others selling their paper called the Socialist which featured hospital pneumatic tube carriers. The tube carriers safely and reliably transport lab specimens, IVs, pharmaceuticals, documents, supplies and other materials throughout the hospital’s pneumatic tube system. Click here to learn about hospital pneumatic tube systems. Robert Sale from trade union campaign Brent Fightback was another at-the-backer.

That left 5 questions from “civilians” – possibly. Tranjit from Southall called the consultation “self-fulfilling” and asked why we had choose between hospitals. Inderjit who had previously sat on the council’s own health panels talked about Southall’s particular health issues. A “working man” tried to draw parallels with the time of the Thatcher government and asked if we would be driven out of country in search of healthcare. An Ealing hospital nursing sister called Jenny of 26 years standing talked of Southall’s specific health issues and its “hidden population”. Finally a “resident of 40 years” talked with the angry sense of loss that many older people feel when contemplating the modern world.

Between the chairman, Victoria Macdonald, Health correspondent of Channel 4, and the two microphone carriers (both from the SOH Ealing campaign), not enough effort was made to find a broader range of actual questions rather than well rehearsed, often political positions. Dr Sahota spent much of the meeting waving at the microphone carriers so maybe that explains the narrow range of the questioners we heard from.

The problem we have in Ealing is that NHS NWL has come up with a response to the Nicholson challenge that piles the pain of the whole region onto us. It is inequitable. We are right to fight it. We need NHS NWL to think again and work out how to square the circle fairly. NHS NWL cannot change the macroeconomics but they can work out how not to screw our borough. The howls of rage from the left (including the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Party all selling their newspapers outside the hall last night) are diluting what should be our central message which is that NHS NWL need to come up with a fairer solution.

6 replies on “Hospital debate: Who was there?”

Phil

Please explain why A Bray did not attend. Regardless of political stance, a serious omission I and many think.

Why is it more difficult to measure the conviction among most of our local Tory politicians than it is with those from other parties?

George,

I don’t know Angie Bray’s schedule so I can’t answer for her and wouldn’t presume to. She was at the rally on the 15th and spoke there. We had a large team of local Conservative members there too helping people to get access to and respond to the consultation and have leafleted most of the borough with information on how to do so. No-one should doubt our commitment to protecting our local services. We still say the most effective way to do that is to personally respond to the consultation. The proposed changes affect Ealing particularly badly. All of the options on offer are bad for Ealing – Option A, their preferred option, is merely the worst.

This is a difficult issue for both the Conservatives and the LibDems as our parties are in power and are in charge of the NHS. As I have said a number of times the Coalition is committed to maintaining health spending in real terms and although Labour has sought to quibble over the odd million here and there the promise is being met. Labour has never made this promise.

The Nicholson Challenge, which predates the Coalition, takes £20 billion out of current health service spending and puts it back in to provide new services to meet increasing demand for healthcare. Labour insist on highlighting the cuts side without mentioning the new spending even though it is their own policy. The NHS NWL plans drop straight out of the Nicholson Challenge and have been in train since before the Coalition came to power. The NHS NWL proposals provide a solution to the challenge posed by Nicholson for our area but it is a really unfair one that hits Ealing worse than anywhere else. We are all against them because at the end of the day they are bad for our area. It is not a hard choice.

The extreme left types who were very much in evidence at the march and the meeting on Wednesday are not really interested in Ealing they merely hope that unease about the cuts side of the equation will be good for them. The trade unions are very loud too because they want to protect jobs rather than health outcomes which can most likely be improved with less employees. Labour is being hypocritical because they are not offering to reinstate the £20 billion and it is certain they never will. This is the equivalent of 1/8th of all income taxes collected in our country. NHS NWL would have come up with the same scheme under a Labour government and locally Labour would have been in the awkward position rather than us!

The text of Onkar Sahota’s original petition said “Ealing Hospital is becoming a victim of the Conservative Government NHS cuts”. It was put up before the mayoral election and was designed to be impossible for any Conservative to sign. We have been happy to sign the more recent ones as they weren’t political in the same way. Sahota has played a cunning political game. He has made no attempt to have a debate about healthcare and how best to provide it beyond a few soundbites that he knows to be intellectually dishonest.

Phil,

It’s rather sad to constantly read your Party political words on this subject. It may well take extreme Socialists occupying Ealing Hospital in order to broadcast Ealing’s healthcare plight nationally.

As the debate on Wednesday was probably the largest public debate on how to restructure healthcare for two million Londoners across 100 square miles why wasn’t London Mayor Johnson at the meeting? And why is the Mayor so silent about these proposals?

Finally the absence of Dr Mohini Parmar, NHS Ealing CCG Chair, was truly shocking. It will be this person and this group that will take over running healthcare for the 320,000 Ealing residents in just seven monht’s time.

Eric,

I am all for public debate but I am always interested in who is orchestrating what I am hearing. I am sorry you don’t like me pointing out who was saying what so that people have some insight into what they are hearing. I didn’t think that I was being party political. I was just trying to tie down the speaker’s own interests.

This meeting was called at pretty short notice (the date was only set at the end of August) so it would always have been highly unlikely that the London Mayor would turn up. Add to that the fact the health is way outside his remit. He has huge responsibilities for public transport and policing which together spend about £10 billion per annum.

The debate was limited to two speakers from each side with one supporting person for answers to technical matters. I guess NHS NWL chose one GP and one hospital doctor to represent them. It would have been strange probably to put up two GPs but they need to answer for themselves.

Angie Bray Tory supporter
Dr Mohini Parmar – Tory supporter
No there isnt a common theme here, I can do the same with policitians but its us having too much trust with policitians
Sorry Phil bark all you want about signign the consultation, I spoke with a few local Mps, both Lib Dem, Labour and Tory and all were in agreement they will ‘try’ theur best to suport residents but who were they kidding, lets get rid of the hosptial was the general consensus.

Policitioss and the real world. so far apart!

I couldn’t attend this meeting sadly. It was a shame this was not that well attended – by ‘civilians’: considering the gravity of the impeding situation.
It was an open meeting apperently to all interested or concerned parties. Why should it be of any relevance ‘who’ was there and ‘whose’ political afiliations are represented? Ultimately, this to me is a cross party issue.
I am not a member of any political party, but, you seem to disproportionately focus on the hair styles of the’ left’ rather than highlight and raise awareness of the impending tradegy of these closures. A man wears his hair long -so? If a few papers are being sold – what the hell – you don’t have to buy them?
I hope ALL residents will unite against these proposals.
Good luck to Everyone fighting the Good Fight 🙂

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