This article first appeared in the Ludlow Advertiser.
Many people have received first class treatment from the NHS, including myself after a recent stroke. Regrettably, that is not everyone’s experience. It is no secret that our health system is creaking at the seams.
Telford A&E unit is threatened with closure overnight from next month due to a shortage of consultants. Health bosses aim to shut it forever. Ludlow Maternity Unit closed overnight at the end of January. The plans are to close it permanently to live births.
This pattern is being repeated across the country. Everywhere, there are insufficient resources to meet growing demand. This is hitting cash-starved rural areas harder than cities. People in towns like ours will have to travel further to access many health services.
Ministers say the NHS doesn’t need any more money. They demand greater innovation, which I agree with, and yet another reorganisation, which I oppose.
The latest idea is to commission health services through Accountable Care Organisations. Many fear that this will lead to large scale privatisation of the health service. I share those fears.
We must not become reliant on private companies to deliver public services. Company priorities are shareholder value and executive pay, not the public values we need to deliver our health services.
Organic change and collaborative working are the way forward. Not the big bang reorganisations beloved by ministers competing for their place in political history.
Organic and collaborative change should happen here too. Health managers would have made changes and introduced innovation more quickly in Shropshire if they not been distracted by the troubled Future Fit process. They wanted a big bang but have so far delivered a damp squib.