As headlines continue about the collapsing NHS and the ‘third-world conditions’ in Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments, with inability to access GPs and other non-emergency facilities blamed for a significant portion of A&E demand, you’d imagine that existing non-A&E facilities would be guarded and shepherded jealously to prevent the worsening of a crisis that is already a disaster.
You’d be wrong.
A meeting is happening right now with the aim of closing the last ‘walk-in centre’ in South-East London, as the Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) consultation document describes it:
Local councillor Joe Dromey has tweeted about the support for the walk-in among Lewisham residents – eighty percent of respondents to the consultation wanted to keep it – and about the lack of communication by the CCG about today’s meeting:
The CCG’s consultation revealed that the closure of the walk-in will drive a large proportion of its users to our over-stretched A&Es:
Lewisham’s NHS Trust is already failing by a distance to hit its A&E targets – and has not done so for over two and a half years:
Lewisham CCG told the SKWAWKBOX that no final decision has been made until this morning’s meeting – but confirmed that the recommended decision is to close the walk-in.
The impact of the closure will not only be felt in Lewisham. According to the CCG, 17.5% of the 30,000 or so people using the walk-in centre come from other parts of South-East London – which don’t have a walk-in of their own.
A local doctor has started a petition calling for the walk-in to be kept open.
The government says it is protecting the NHS, yet the fragmentation accelerated by the 2012 Health and Social Care bill and by the decisions of Tory government’s since is driving decisions to close vital facilities, putting even urgent healthcare further in time and distance from those who need it.
The Tories, as usual, are trying to disguise the true extent of the damage they are doing to the NHS – and the fact that their policies are accelerating its collapse.
Events in Lewisham also reveal – again – that the ‘consultations’ offered before NHS facilities are closed are a sham. 80% of residents responded to keep their walk-in – and still the CCG is recommending closure and is almost certain to proceed.
Even if you live hundreds of miles from Lewisham, what’s happening there is relevant to you and your loved ones, because it’s typical of what is going on around England – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in the fortunate position that their NHS is not directly subject to Tory decisions.
In England, the government is conducting a huge new reorganisation of the NHS into ‘accountable care organisations’ (ACOs) along the lines of the expensive, inefficient US model. Few people are aware of this reorganisation, which Theresa May recently refused to deny was a step toward introducing privatised, insurance-based healthcare:
Find out what your CCGs are doing, fight the inevitable closures and mergers that are being conducted out of mainstream public awareness – and don’t forget to support the people in Lewisham, who are in the middle of a long fight to save their NHS.
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