If there was any doubt before, there is none now. The Conservatives can’t be trusted with the NHS, at least not in Shropshire. After one of the most bizarre presentations I have heard in 40-odd years of turning out to committees, yesterday the Conservatives on Shropshire Council voted to wreck a perfectly sensible motion calling on the council to stand up for the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. The motion from Councillor Alan Moseley read:
“Given that the Future Fit programme has reached a critical stage in determining policy and strategy for the future of NHS Services in Shropshire, Shropshire Council strongly believes that the retention and development of full A&E services and facilities at the RSH is essential. Furthermore the Council commits itself to pursuing this objective in every way possible and generally ensuring that there is no reduction in the overall levels of service and quality at RSH which are freely available for residents of Shropshire and neighbouring areas.”
It’s a simple motion that asks the council to lobby for emergency and other health provision in Shrewsbury, rather let everything drift to Telford. But the Conservatives really couldn’t stomach such a public commitment to supporting the Royal Shrewsbury.
Speaking to amend a motion to remove references to the RSH, Martin Bennett, councillor for Oswestry East, began by referring to the TV series Location, Location. He then talked at great length about his cardiovascular surgery. We got to know of the drips used and the stents installed within Councillor Bennett in astonishing detail. It was certainly an unusual way to present an amendment. The Speaker would not allow a point of order that Councillor Bennett was not speaking to the amendment.
As Councillor Bennett continued to detail his medical adventures, his free flow was mercifully interrupted by a point of laughter. Councillor Viv Parry rose and asked if she could also talk about her operation. The entire body councillors roared out loud and Councillor Bennett was at last silenced.
The vote on the amendment was carried: 42 votes for; 7 against; 12 abstentions. I voted against the amendment. The vote was recorded, so we will know shortly which councillors voted which way. As far as I could see, the Conservatives as a body voted for the wrecking amendment.
David Cameron has said time, time, time and time again that the NHS is safe in the Conservatives’ hands. What we now know is that the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is not safe in Conservative hands. If the they won’t protect their local patch, how can we trust them with the rest of the NHS?
The watered down motion passed by Shropshire Council reads:
“Given that the Future Fit programme has reached a critical stage in determining policy and strategy for the future of NHS Services in Shropshire, Shropshire Council strongly believes in ensuring that there is no reduction in the overall levels of service and quality at RSH which are freely available for residents of Shropshire and neighbouring areas.”
This is nothing other than a motion for taking health services and jobs out of Shropshire.