IN THE SUMMER we won our first fight to stop the downgrade of Broomfield A&E. Under the original proposal all blue light emergencies would have gone straight to Basildon, and would have seen patients dieing in the back of an ambulance on the A130. It was a fantastic victory for people power.
However, local health bosses in the Sustainability & Transformation Partnership (STP) are still required to deliver £400 million of cuts to our NHS in mid and south Essex over the next few years. Broomfield Hospital itself is expected to cut £30 million every year.
Under the new proposals Basildon Hospital will become the local ‘specialist centre’ for emergency care. Although patients will go to Broomfield first to be stabilised, many will then be transferred to Basildon. Dr Caroline Howard, lead consultant at Southend A&E, recently described plans to transfer patients who suffer with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and who are on breathing machines to Basildon as “the most dangerous thing I have heard about in my life”. [Southend Echo, “Campaigners’ fears over health plans”, Katie Feehan, Monday November 27th 2017].’
Basildon has not been able to cope in recent years as it is. Their A&E has regularly been on black alert. How will it cope with the extra demand? It will be overwhelmed.
Furthermore, with public transport links so poor between Chelmsford and Basildon, there will be those who find it very difficult to impossible to visit relatives and friends in Basildon. For those in Braintree or Halstead it will be even worse. And such support networks are vital to patients in recovery.
We are also worried about how the victory we gained in the summer will be maintained. By losing many of the services currently being offered at Broomfield to Basildon, Broomfield will inevitably also lose medical staff to Basildon. Without these medical staff, can Broomfield continue to offer a full A&E service? It looks like it will be a downgrade of blue light emergency services by stealth.
The real purpose of the STPs – and these exist in every part of the country – is to Slash, Trash, and Privatise. These huge cuts to our NHS will cost lives. But we won before through people power, and with your help, we can win again.