Opinion: NHS Cuts are hitting Cheshire East by Cllr Damian Bailey

Crewe & Nantwich Labour Party would like to wish all our members and residents of Crewe & Nantwich a very happy Christmas and New Year. 2016 was a testing year in politics, that is for sure. Who knows what will happen in 2017! For now, we have a piece from Cllr Damian Bailey, proud Labour party and trade union member and councillor for Crewe St. Barnabas.

By Cllr Damian Bailey (@DamianBailey13)

NHS Cuts are hitting Cheshire East

At Full Council last Thursday, members were “very generously” granted the opportunity to debate a notice of motion on the NHS and in particular the immediate threat to the survival of Macclesfield Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department. Conventionally, the Council refers nearly all notices of motion for consideration by cabinet as a way to stifle proper debate and discussion within the Council chamber.

It was originally suggested that the department at Macclesfield Hospital was downgraded into an MIU (Minor Injury & Illness Unit). This provoked strong opposition from the community, Councillors and even the local Tory MP David Rutley. Thankfully such plans look to have been shelved for the time being.

The motion read:

“That Cheshire East Council supports the continued provision of an accident and emergency service at Macclesfield General Hospital, and instructs the Chief Executive to write to such health and Government agencies, as he considers appropriate, to convey to them the resolution of this Council.”

“The chickens really have come home to roost”

It goes without saying, a motion of this nature was passed unanimously by all Cheshire East Councillors present. However, that did not stop Labour Councillors, including myself, ferociously attacking the Conservative Government and their abysmal record on the NHS. We reminded our Tory colleagues that it is their Government’s mismanagement and their Party’s wider austerity agenda that has put our local services in Cheshire East under so much strain and in this case, under the threat of closure. As one of my Labour colleagues put it: “For Tory MPs like David Rutley who have supported unnecessary top-down reorganisations of our health service as well as further NHS cuts, the chickens really have come home to roost”.

Whilst this may well be affecting services in the north of our borough for the time being, service level reductions are very much on their way to Crewe. What form those cuts will take we do not know as yet. What we do know, is that the new Sustainability & Transformation Plans, or STPs for short, that NHS England are rolling out in local areas across the country is a smokescreen for billions of pounds of further “efficiencies” and Tory cuts.

In terms of South Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the Chief Executive told my Labour colleague, Cllr Sam Corcoran, that balancing the books is their number one priority for the foreseeable future. Such a statement should alarm us all because that means one thing – cuts to health provision in Crewe, Nantwich and the surrounding area.

Labour’s legacy and support of the NHS

The NHS, in my mind, is the best thing about our great country. It embodies the unparalleled virtue of any decent society where need is prioritized above the ability to pay. The Tories do not place any emphasis on such virtues and instead measure the price of everything and the value of nothing.

We were accused by our Tory counterparts of ‘politicising’ the debate last Thursday. For that, I plead guilty. The root causes of the problems facing the NHS are political and indeed the solutions will be political. Labour built the NHS and only Labour with the support of ordinary people can restore our most prized public asset to where it needs to be.

I hope that you will join us in this fight. To get involved in the campaign to save our NHS, please join us by visiting: https://join.labour.org.uk