Council debate reveals uncaring Conservative and Liberal Democrat Councillors
Plans to close local accident and emergency units were debated by councillors in Kensington and Chelsea. Observers were shocked at last Wednesday’s Council meeting when Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors rejected a Labour proposal supporting the retention of full accident and emergency Services across west London and condemning secret discussions about cuts and changes to west London’s health care services that won’t be revealed until after the May 3 Mayoral and GLA elections.
Labour Councillor Robert Atkinson, who proposed the resolution, commented: “I would never claim that any aspect of the NHS is beyond improvement, but the idea of closing emergency departments across west London when Londoners, especially those without cars or really accessible doctors’ surgeries, cannot easily get emergency health care, is outrageous. We need more, not fewer, walk-in services and if we go ahead and close or downgrade emergency services at the St Mary’s, Hammersmith, Charing Cross or Chelsea and Westminster hospitals, people will die”.
Councillor Pat Healy, Labour spokeswoman on health, added: “we are supposed to be in a period of ‘pre-consultation’ consultation, which means that professional people are summoned to semi-secret and expensive meetings at places like Lords Cricket Ground to decide on reorganisations and closures behind closed doors. This is treating patients like children and stifles debate to prevent it becoming a key issue before the London-wide elections on 3 May”.
These semi-secret meetings have been told that it will take up to 58 minutes longer by car to get to the nearest A&E if these closures go ahead. Ambulance journeys will take 6 – 23 minutes longer. Cllr Healy said: “we were told that people ‘may have to travel longer but they will get better care when they arrive’ – well yes, but only if they survive the journey.’
Ken Livingstone and Labour’s GLA team have made some very sensible suggestions about the strategic health needs of Londoners and the importance of involving voters in the debate so that they can make their wishes clear. The silence from both Boris Johnson and the Tory and Lib Dem councillors in Kensington and Chelsea speaks volumes.”