In the pouring rain, around 36 Kirklees residents turned up outside Dewsbury Hospital, for a ‘Hands Round Dewsbury Hospital’ Vigil on Thursday 28 April. They joined members of Dewsbury 38degrees campaign group and Keep Our NHS Public.
The vigil was for hospital services and buildings – the Bronte Tower and the Staincliffe Building – which are due to disappear, following the decision a few years ago to “reconfigure” Mid Yorks NHS Trust hospitals. This decision was upheld nationally, despite the fact that Kirklees and Wakefield Councillors decided it was against the best interests of the local population.
A local Dewsbury man who preferred not to give his name said,
“I’m here because my son has cerebral palsy and my own health is not good. My family needs a hospital in Dewsbury”.
Patricia Foley of Dewsbury KONP said..
“By the end of the year, we will have no Grade 1 A&E and no consultant led maternity services in North Kirklees – despite there being a need for both. Dewsbury DH will be losing some of its most iconic buildings not to mention the services housed within them.”
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is beginning to withdraw services from Dewsbury and will need to think about what to do with the buildings it is no longer using.
The Infrastructure Act 2015 contains a Public Sector Land Assets section, which allows the government to sell off any public land it chooses, whilst cancelling public access and use without consultation. Clauses 21 and 22 allow property to be transferred from any public body to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and for it to then be sold to developers free from any previously existing public rights.
Organisers of the Vigil said it it would be better to use the buildings to alleviate the chronic bed shortage in other hospitals ie Pinderfields, instead of selling them off.
38 degrees member Christine Hyde said,
“People do not want to have to go to Pinderfields for appointments and Emergency treatment. They never have and never will. They are here in the pouring rain to show that. People can see that negative predictions pointed out to the Coalition Government by health professionals at the time of the Health and Social Care Act, are coming to pass. There comes a time when we have to say STOP! People coming together like this can build a movement for change for the better.”
Patricia Foley of Dewsbury KONP said..
‘It was good to see such a wide range of people at the Dewsbury vigil – we got lots of passing support from cars & pedestrians. What amazes me is that people still ‘don’t know’ about what is happening at DDH & regarding the privatisation of the NHS generally. It’s only through holding events of this type that you realise that most people still don’t seem to know what’s going on – how can this be?’
NHS England plans to make sure all patients have a bed – in their own home. Campaigners pointed out that not everyone can have a hospital in a family room, not everyone has a family and not everyone has a home.
Christine Hyde said,
“Imagine the hardship when the government brings in legislation to restrict council housing to a tenancy of 5 years, if someone’s tenancy runs out while they are being treated for an illness at home!?”
More cuts coming up thanks to Deloitte
Since the vigil, Mid Yorks Trust has announced it will not downgrade Dewsbury A&E to an urgent care centre in September 2106 as it had planned, but has put this off until 2017. What will happen then? Are the Trust going to come up with a new plan or just go ahead with the cuts/downgrade?
Towards the end of May, Mid Yorks Trust announced that NHS Improvement – the new hospitals regulator formed from a merger of Monitor and the Trust Development Agency, -had imposed a Financial Improvement Programme on the Trust.
In the last financial year the Trust deficit stood at around £20 million which included the benefit of “technical accounting” items of £11m. Without this the deficit would have been £31m.
The Financial Improvement Programme means that a team from Deloitte is identifying how to cut the Mid Yorks Trust costs. Mid Yorks Trust says that they have “contracted” with Deloitte for four weeks, when Deloitte will produce a report outlining recommendations for cutting costs. At this point the Trust Board will consider whether it would be of benefit to contract further with Deloitte or any other third party to help them deliver those recommendations.
The Financial Improvement Programme is based on applying Lord Carter’s proposals for cutting costs – but the Health Service Journal reports that these are based on dodgy data. These data – based on a tool for comparing hospitals’ operating costs called the Adjusted Treatment Index – take no account of quality. The Kings Fund says the ATI and another type of NHS reference cost called the Reference Cost Index:
“…are not comprehensive measures of productivity as they take no account of quality, so a hospital may improve its score by reducing costs at the expense of quality (though they might have achieved greater value by improving both at the same time: the point is, we wouldn’t be able to tell)”
Mid Yorks Trust employment of Deloitte follows years of the Trust paying Ernst and Young £millions to tell it what cuts to make – mainly staff redundancies – and then to tell it to employ more staff in order to protect patient safety.