Analysis News

166 reasons – closures – not to trust a word Boris Johnson says about the NHS

In 2010 Cameron promised not to close any A&E or maternity wards. His promise was just as dishonest as Johnson’s will be

As the Tories’ conference starts today, Boris Johnson is making wild promises about new hospitals and Tory investment in the NHS – as part of his shamelessly dishonest pre-election grandstanding.

But anyone who watches NHS developments knows a simple truth: never trust a Tory, especially when they talk about our health service.

in 2010, David Cameron campaigned on a promise that the NHS was safe in Tory hands – and even signed a coalition pledge that the government would never close an Accident and Emergency (A&E) or maternity ward, let alone a hospital:

But the reality has been that the Tories have closed huge numbers of wards, including maternity and A&E – often forcing sick patients and mothers in labour to make long and dangerous journeys to hospitals miles away.

In spite of their specific promise not to do so, the Tories have closed – or downgraded to a shell of their former function – sixty-six maternity wards and A&E units, just some of which are shown below:

The Tories have closed more than one hundred walk-in centres that were supposed to take the pressure off hard-pressed A&Es and make health-care more accessible to local populations. Every red dot on this map represents one such centre lost to local people:

These closures are often disguised as ‘local decisions’ by means of sham ‘consultations’, but the programme is driven by ‘diktat’ and by government pressure to cut costs and centralise services. The centralised plan for closures and downgrades is clearly outlined in the little-publicised emergency care review published by Sir Bruce Keogh, the Tories’ then-National Medical Director on the NHS Commissioning Board.

Boris Johnson is and will be no different. He has said he will build dozens of new hospitals – and the BBC parroted the Tory claim, but then had to delete it when the truth was exposed:

And even the six are not new – but rather reconfigurations of existing hospital facilities. Local NHS campaigner Bonnie Craven told the SKWAWKBOX that the sham taking place in her London borough will actually reduce beds and services available:

One of the “new hospitals” is planned for Sutton. But it wont be a hospital. It’s a “facility” to take the place of two local fully acute hospitals.

The plan is to site it within the Royal Marsden, which has been operating at the legal limit of private income for years and is openly considering conversion to private status.

It will cost us beds and consultants and we will lose maternity, paediatrics and more that is currently offered within both existing hospitals.

Eminent GP and NHS campaigner Dr Kailash Chand summed up what is really happening on the ground in the NHS:

The NHS has been starved of funding since Tories came to power and now has a £6bn maintenance backlog, safety has been compromised and access rationed.

You can’t trust Tories with NHS!


Boris Johnson’s lips will be moving today. Don’t believe a word that comes out of them.

There is only one party with safe hands for the NHS: Labour.

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  1. If we keep dithering and miss the chance of a General election ,we hand over the NHS and the leadership of the Labour party to the moderate agenda.. Its now or never for the democratic socialist Labour party and Jeremy corbyn.This time next year it could be leader of the opposition Tom Watson or Benn.

  2. Just one word of caution : not *all* closures are *necessarily* down to Tory predations – although those relating to emergency services and walk-in centres, in particular, need to be heavily scrutinized.

    Close engagement with the NHS has shown me that specialized services require a concentration in centres of expertise if they are to be effective. I’m lucky in living within the area of a major teaching trust, and conversations with other old gits in various situations has alerted me to the phenomenon of smaller local hospitals having to pass on patients (sometimes after an unsuccessful first attempt) to a major centre of expertise.

    Similarly, better primary care and local facilities should mean less demand on acute beds – although there’s the major issue of the shedding of beds just on the promise of such, when an element of double funding is going to be needed to make any effective transition, and clearly, there is at the moment a general shortage of beds that can easily be observed – and experienced.

    There will always, and naturally, be opposition to closures – but there is a balance to be kept in mind.

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