Thursday, April 12, 2007

NHS Hospital building scandal

The news is awash with stories about how the government appears to have been favouring Labour areas with hospitals instead of Conservative and Liberal Democrat ones.

The BBC here, quotes it as £3.5 billion of a total of £4.1 billion on new hospitals being in Labour areas.

The Independent also has this.

There is a point there, though there is also the defence that Labour have more MP's and up until 2005 had substantially more MP's than the other parties combined. Having said that the disparity is 85% Labour to 15% everyone else and clearly they have never held 85% of the seats.

What is worse is that Hazel Blears, chairman of the Labour party was in meetings with Department of Health ministers and officials over making sure that hospital closures and cuts did not occur in sensitive areas. Then of course we had the scandal of Labour ministers campaigning against their own cuts. (see here also)

What concerns me more is the habit of building new hospitals whilst closing or downgrading others leaving less hospitals and or hospital services. That in my view is the real scandal, building new hospitals to cover up for the fact that more old ones are being downgraded and closed.

For example the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath is now under threat. It may lose key services like maternity. Anything could happen from nothing to closure by the death of a thousand cuts.

Is it any wonder then, that now according to this article from Iain Dale that only 7% of Doctors would vote Labour whereas 43% would vote Conservative?

Labour really are in trouble if they are losing the public service vote to that extent.


Anonymous said...

About the hospital locations - I'm not sure it could be avoided given the centralising strategy. You will always end up centralising a hospital in a sizable town, and those will still tend to be Labour rather than Tory.

Take Devon for example. Any centralisation will see expansion of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Labour controlled Exeter, since it is the biggest hospital between Plymouth and Bristol. At the same time it would be smaller community hospitals in more rural places like East Devon (Honiton?) or West Devon (Okehampton?) that would be closed, where the constituencies are Lib Dem or Tory.

A more rigorous test would look at the type of hospital that Labour/Tory/Lib Dem MPs had in their seats, to do a like-for-like comparison.

The real problem is that the strategy is bad.

Benedict White said...

Timothy, Firstly the centralisation policy is new, and has not been in any manifesto, secondly it is untried on our roads, so whilst you may have a point it is not the point new Labour stood on, nor is it a point that has been fully explored.

Anonymous said...

Anyone doing a watch on hospitals or units that were due to be closed, but have now miraculously been saved just in time for the May elections if in areas where Labour or Libdems (in Scotland) are fighting for re-election?
This has happened in my area and some think that the maternity unit is saved, but my interpretation is that the decision has simple been put back to the consultation stage.
I remember something similar happening before the 2005 GE, but am I right in assuming that some did subsequently close?

Benedict White said...

ChrisD, Yes a lot of consultations have just been put back without closures being cancelled.

Is there a connection to local elections? Whould they be so cynical? Probably!