Tuesday 1 May 2012

Cardiff and Vale Cuts £67million from NHS Services

Cardiff and Vale Cuts £67million from NHS Services

Cardiff and Vale Health Board is celebrating International Workers' Day today by agreeing to slash another £67 million from the NHS services it provides.

The West Wing of Cardiff Royal Infirmary, which treats elderly patients, Rookwood Hospital, which houses specialist facilities for stroke sufferers, and Whitchurch Hospital, a Mental Health facility, have all been targetted for closure. Many smaller facilities out in the community will also shut unless the plans are stopped.

The board describes their strategy as "avoiding duplication of services" and "developing centres of excellence." But any ward that has more than one bed or more than one nurse duplicates services. In reality, the Board's plans are about CUTS - reducing the capacity of our health service to treat illness.

Stroke patients, for example, will be double-hit if a rehabilitation facility at the West Wing as well as an acute facility at Llandough Hospital are closed as planned. This essential service is already on its knees: locally, just 53% of patients were admitted to a specialist stroke ward within 24 hours of admission at Llandough, and only 8% at the Heath.

This latest round of cuts comes after an eye-watering plan to cut £87.7million was demanded by the Assembly last year. Cardiff and Vale cut funding for diagnostics, when it is missing targets for the detection of cancer, closed the Emergency Poisons unit at Llandough, when it is missing targets for dealing with emergencies, and cut the budgets of surgery and many more departments. The Board have explicitly admitted that the reason they take too long to deal with emergency patients is that there aren't enough staff and not enough beds. 31% fewer trauma operations were carried out last year. Even official figures say that 97% of bed space is occupied and that hospitals in the area are 110 beds short - that's before this year's cuts are carried out.

Waiting times, already long, are also being pushed up, leaving people to suffer in pain needlessly, because the politicians are demanding we pay for the bankers' mess with cuts to NHS and other services. 8% fewer patients underwent cardiothoracic surgery last year, 22% fewer were traeted by cardiologists, and so on.

With Council care services also being cut back, the Board is planning to dump patients into the laps of charities, regressing to the Victorian era. They are also planning to save money by booting patients out of hospital as soon as possible, especially the elderly.

The staff left behind after the cuts are made are under enormous pressure. Stress levels are through the roof. Predictably, sickness has rocketed amongst NHS staff. The response of the Board, however, isn't to make sure there are enough workers in place to do the job, but to bring in a draconian new sickness-management regime, that will be used to force people to come to work when they're ill...in a hospital!

The Welsh Assembly has the power to stop the cuts: it must use it! It is not good enough for Labour ministers to criticise Tory cuts when they are announced in Westminster but then claim that the Assembly is "softening the blow" when it implements savage cuts here in Wales. Despite NHS facilities being over £half a billion short this year, Carwyn Jones claims there are no cuts in the NHS in Wales! The Assembly must refuse to pass on the cuts to local health boards, and instead coordinate the setting of budgets that meet the real needs for NHS services in the community. They must organise a mass campaign of demonstrations to demand more funding from the government.

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