Rotherham Hospital campaign goes to Downing Street tomorrow

Since Rotherham Show we have been asking people to show their support for Rotherham Hospital as it faces an uncertain future by signing up to the Save Our Services campaign run jointly between Unison and Labour in Rotherham.

This Thursday a group of us: health workers, UNISON campaigners and politicians will make our way to Downing Street to deliver a petition signed by 2,500 local people concerned about the future of Rotherham Hospital.

Earlier this year, we revealed how the number of nurses had fallen at the hospital, whilst the number of patients waiting more than four hours in A&E had risen by more than 250%.

Rotherham Hospital is being forced by the government to cut £50 million from its budget and on 19th December, the Hospital Board will agree a long-awaited report about how services should be organised and which services continue to be viable in the long term.

The Board have repeatedly said that all services are under consideration, whilst we want to keep their NHS services local and not lose them to neighbouring towns.

As a member of Rotherham Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, we have had senior management into our meetings three times to keep track of developments at the hospital, and to impress on them the fears and concerns from local residents.

We were pleased that the interim Chief Exec could tell us that he did not foresee privatisation of the management of the hospital as being part of the solution to current problem. But in the first three months after the Tory – Lib Dem government’s NHS Act came into force, 21 of the first 25 contracts for NHS services around the country went to private companies and not NHS providers. Now, as big decisions loom for Rotherham, people have quite understandably told us how much they fear for the future of our NHS.

In October John Healey MP challenged the Health Secretary in Parliament over the way that Tory legislation promotes competition considerations over patient care and has publicly called for a hospital merger to be taken off the table. He says;

“The government’s huge upheaval of the Health Service has taken billions of pounds away from frontline services, and put competition laws ahead of patient care. We’ve already begun to see the impact in Rotherham. We will keep fighting for our local services because we know that so many people depend on them.”

Gill Garnett, who works in Rotherham’s A&E department and who be part of the delegation to Downing Street says;

“Hospital staff are doing great work under enormous pressure, but they can’t continue to stretch resources thinner and thinner. It’s been great to receive such overwhelming support from the public in Rotherham. We all want our hospital to get through this difficult time so as these big decisions loom we’re sending a clear message to this government about how much Rotherham values its hospital.”

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