CABINET REELING – from massive constituency health cuts

UNISON Head of Health KAREN JENNINGS (left) with other UNISON members handing in the UNISON prescription for the NHS to the Department of Health yesterday mid-day
UNISON Head of Health KAREN JENNINGS (left) with other UNISON members handing in the UNISON prescription for the NHS to the Department of Health yesterday mid-day

Public sector union, UNISON, yesterday published a new report showing that each of the 21 elected cabinet ministers in the government faces severe health cuts in or affecting their own backyard.

UNISON Head of Health Karen Jennings warned: ‘If ministers don’t begin to start backing their local health services, and start opposing the relentless closures and cuts affecting their own communities, then local voters will undoubtedly hold them to account at the next election.’

‘Astonishingly’ said UNISON, the report shows that every one of the 21 elected cabinet ministers in Blair’s government faces pressure in or around their constituency from health cuts.

Some of the biggest cuts are taking place in prime minister Blair’s Sedgefield constituency.

The UNISON report reveals: ‘Durham County Durham and Darlington Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Blair’s local Sedgefield Community Hospital, announced up to 700 posts would be cut over the next three years in March 2006.

‘In 2006 Sedgefield Primary Care Trust said it was looking for ways to close a £3.8m deficit.

‘The D&D Hospitals Trust was also recently exposed this year for paying graduate workers as little as £2.60 an hour (or £480 a month) on “preceptorship” trainee schemes.’

In deputy prime minister Prescott’s East Yorkshire constituency, Hull East, ‘up to 300 physicians, nurses and surgeons were earmarked for the axe in January 2006 by the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.

On Chancellor Brown, the report states: ‘Before boundary changes, Gordon Brown represented the Dunfermline East constituency until the last election where the town faces its A&E at Queen Margaret’s Hospital being downgraded to minor injuries in years to come.

‘Along with A&E, around 500 acute beds will be transferred twelve miles away to Kirkcaldy say local campaigners. This leaves Brown’s new constituency hospital in Kirkcaldy potentially facing more emergencies emanating from across Fife’s stretched NHS.’

A PFI hospital in Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw’s Blackburn constituency is facing complaints that it is starving NHS services across Lancashire.

The report says: ‘This week a staff whistleblower revealed workers had been told that 12 miles away, at Burnley Hospital, the A&E was to be downgraded to a minor injuries clinic by the end of September this year.’

Last year it was announced that up to 700 jobs were under threat at the local hospital of foreign secretary Beckett, MP for Derby South.

In trade and industry secretary Darling’s Edinburgh South West constituency, emergency services were moved from Livingston’s St John’s and Edinburgh’s Western Hospital and installed at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary.

The report added: ‘. . . five local hospitals across Lothian were earmarked for closure in 2005 causing widespread outrage and condemnation from then local MP Robin Cook.’

In Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt’s Leicester West constituency, in February 2007 it was announced up to 900 jobs would be lost at Leicester Hospitals that at least 200 will be compulsory redundancies and 200 beds will close by 2009.