Thursday, March 22, 2007

Petition Submitted to Health Scrutiny Comittee

The City Hospital Supporters Group handed over a 1145 signature petition to Councillor Deirdre Alden, Chairman of Birmingham City Council's Health Scrutiny committee on Monday at the Council House in Birmingham. There was coverage in the Birmingham Mail, as well as on Saga radio, Drive Time on Radio WM and a piece on Midlands Today at tea time and in the evening.

The signatures were collected by members of the City Hospital Supporters Group by knocking on doors in the local area, leaving petitions in local community centres and places of worship and an online petition. On our Day of Action, local resident Rageev Hassan told us about how he spent a couple of hours one day knocking on doors trying to get signatures for the petition. One door was opened by an elderly gentleman who knew nothing of the plans. He took the petition, disappeared for a couple of minutes, and came back with seven signatures from his household.

Many thanks to everyone involved for all their efforts. Hopefully this will show the Health Scrutiny Committee the strength of feeling against the proposals. They have already been critical of the plans, and have the power to refer this to the Secretary of State if they believe the proposals are not in the public interest or the consultation has not been carried out properly.

Thanks to the efforts of the members of the City Hospital Supporters Group, the Birmingham Mail (and their big debate), and media coverage on Radio WM, Saga and Midlands Today, I guess it would be difficult to claim the consultation has not been carried out properly. However, as our campaign has highlighted since December last year, the proposals are not in the public interest and there is still work to be done.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Petition Presentation Press Release

A number of representatives from this 200 strong Group of hospital staff and members of the local community will be presenting petitions to Councillor Deidre Alden Chair of Birmingham City Council’s Health Scrutiny and Overview Committee on Monday 19th March at 12 noon at the Council House in Birmingham.

The Group have been campaigning against Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust’s proposals to move Emergency Surgical, Trauma and Children’s Beds from City Hospital to Sandwell Hospital as part of their reconfiguration proposals while a new hospital is awaited in 2013.

The petitions opposed moving the Emergency Surgical, Trauma and Children’s Beds from City Hospital with the inevitable downgrading of the Accident and Emergency Department at that hospital and supported the development of 24 hour Assessment Units for both Children and Surgery.


“The Trust went out to consultation with fundamentally flawed proposals that would if they were implemented lead to worse Accident and Emergency Services for the people of Central and West Birmingham while they await a new hospital that will not open its doors before 2013 at the earliest. They have sought the views of the people and they have been given a resounding NO to their proposals” say City Hospital Supporters.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg and a major issue of this campaign has been making the community aware of what is at stake. Once they have appreciated what it will mean to them they have had no difficulty in voicing their opposition” said Dr. Ken Taylor a spokesman for the Group.

“This is not the end of the campaign. It is the beginning of the next phase. Even though the consultation ended on the 15th March the Trust will not be unveiling its final plan until May. Now is the time for people to contact their local Councillors and MPs if they have not already done so.”

“In addition to this petition the Health Scrutiny and Overview Committee of Birmingham City Council have resoundingly rejected the Trust’s proposals on changing their services and so have Mr. Khalid Mahmood’s constituents in Perry Barr after he had thoughtfully circulated them with a questionnaire.”

“The only sensible course of action for the Trust is to drop their plan and leave the beds at City Hospital while trying to shorten the time to the opening of the new hospital. Will it really take until 2010 to reach the stage of signing contracts?” asks Dr. Taylor.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mahmood to Raise Concerns in Westminster

It is rare for politicians these days to get of the fence, but according to a report in the Birmingham Mail Khalid Mahmood has done just that over the interim proposals at Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. In the Birmingham Mail Big Debate in January he promised to send a consultation document to each of the households in his constituency and abide by the response. According to the Mail report, 200 people responded with 67% opposing the proposals to cut emergency paediatric and general & trauma surgery at City Hospital.

Mr Mahmood says he is "looking at raising this issue with the most senior people in Parliament, whether in private or on the floor of the house". Whether he will get an intelligent response is a different matter altogether.


Interim Consultation Ends Tomorrow

Just a reminder that Shaping Hospital Services for the Future, the consultation regarding the interim proposals for City and Sandwell Hospitals, ends tomorrow (March 15th 2007). It is a bit late to request a consultation document if you have not already filled one in but you can still fill it in online via the following link:

What does City Hospital Supporters Group consider to be the best answers to these questions?

Q1 No

Q2 Do not change until the new hospital is ready to open.

Q3 No

Q4 The proposals will result in a worse service for people living locally to City Hospital.

Q5 No

Q6 You would want urgent treatment including surgery at City Hospital. You would be fearful of the risks of transfer to another hospital.

Q7 No

Q8 Urgent care for a sick child should not be delayed by travelling to a hospital further away.

Q9 Ask why they want to make changes that will give you a worse service before the new hospital opens.

The other Questions are self-explanatory.

As well as completing your consultation form and returning it before the 16th February you can complete our petition form and return it to us and you can also choose if you wish to enrol with the City Hospital Supporters Group. For further information please see the post entitled Petition in Support of City Hospital.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Health Scrutiny Committee Criticise Proposals

The front cover of the Birmingham Mail is not pleasant reading for Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. It reports that Birmingham City Council's Health Scrutiny Committee, chaired by councillor Deirdre Alden, has published a report on the interim reconfiguration proposals which call for the plans to be scrapped. The full story is here.

While checking the story on Deirdre Alden's own blog, it appears the report is based on a draft letter written by Councillor Alden which is "attached to the Committee papers and is therefore a public document". The final wording of the letter still needs to be agreed at the Health Scrutiny meeting next Wednesday.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

NHS Day of Action @ BTC

As part of the NHS Day of Action there was a small meet-up outside the Birmingham Treatment Centre to protest against the reconfiguration plans proposed by the Trust in the document Shaping Hospital Services for the Future. A small group turned out to hear from Chris Rickards (UNISON Branch Secretary, City), Esther Lowe (UNISON regional organiser), our very own Ken Taylor (Spokesman, City Hospital Supporters Group) and Malcolm Cantello (President, UNISON), as well as an impromptu speech by local resident Rageev Hassan on his successful efforts at door-to-door petition signing on behalf of the group. Ken Taylor claimed it was the first time he had ever got on a soapbox (which given the number of the campaigns he has been in over the years sounds quite surprising) and this indicated the seriousness of the current proposals. Entertainment was provided by a marvellous steel band, and there was some media coverage including a reporter from the Birmingham Post and a Midlands Today camera crew as well as yours truly of course.

A coach took most of the people on to the main rally in Victoria square that was part of the national day of action. I left with a copy of Socialist Worker, a RESPECT leaflet and a flyer for a trade union meeting. It was just like being a student again...

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