LABOUR has accused the May government of a ‘blanket sell-off’ of NHS land to raise billions to try to plug the hole in savagely cut NHS finances.
The party’s analysis of NHS Digital data, about the multi-billion sell-off, found that 117 of the sites deemed surplus to requirements are still in medical or clinical use. The Tory government has set itself a target of selling off enough NHS land to generate £5bn worth of income by 2020 as a starter.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘This government’s refusal to fund the health service has seen standards of care for patients drop and NHS building and upgrade works pushed back. The NHS needs an urgent injection of funding to make up for years of Tory underfunding, but the answer is not a blanket sell-off of sites which are currently being used for patient care. It all adds to the suspicion that ministers are drawing up secret plans for a fire sale of valuable NHS assets to plug the black hole in their finances.’
Meanwhile, Mandy Forester, Head of Quality and Standards at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has spoken up about the savage maternity cuts and a new report by the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA) which expressed concerns about a shortage of doctors and midwives.
The NMPA is a collaboration between the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
She said: ‘It is worrying that so few women are seeing the same midwife or groups of midwives.’ The report found: ‘Only 15% of trusts and boards reported that women see the same midwife for most care contacts in the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal period, including care in labour from a known midwife. 88% of sites with an obstetric unit reported difficulties in filling obstetric middle grade (registrar) rotas during the previous three months.’
The RCM’s Forester said: ‘The RCM is encouraged to see many women getting 1-to-1 care in labour, but want to see this at 100%. We do however have concerns about what services may be being affected to ensure 1-to-1 care actually happens, as this could potentially be at the expense of midwives being pulled out of community services as well as it affecting areas such as home births and vital postnatal care because of existing midwife shortages.
‘It is worrying that so few women are seeing the same midwife or group of midwives. Continuity of care is crucial to ensuring safe, high quality care.’ She added: ‘Maternity unit closures are also very worrying and will not solve the shortage of midwives in England.’