Hundreds of people in west Cornwall concerned with the future of the NHS packed a public meeting to vow to take the fight to the Government.
The spirited meeting was attended by about 200 people in to St John’s Hall, Penzance, to discuss the current issues threatening the NHS.
Scores of others took to social media before the meeting to apologise for their absence, while others voiced their support after as it was overwhelmingly demanded that a protest would soon follow.
“Our NHS is on the verge of melt down,” said Andrew George, the former Liberal Democrat MP who organised the meeting.
St John’s Hall in Penzance was packed out as it staged a meeting to discuss how to ‘Save the NHS’
“We can all see that our hardworking NHS staff are seriously overstretched with ambulances queuing, trolley waits extending, operations cancelled and services at breaking point.
“Having yet another reorganisation is not an answer to these problems.
“Nor does it help for government ministers and Conservative MPs to constantly re-announce grand-sounding but completely inadequate spending commitments, a blizzard of misleading numbers on doctor and nurse recruitment and to attempt to bewilder the public with meaningless management babble.”
Also at the meeting speaking on the panel with Mr George was Malcolm Stewart, the clinical director at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, and Neil Walden, a local GP.
Marna Blundy, of West Cornwall Healthwatch campaign group, also gave a passionate speech about Cornwall standing up for the NHS, while Unite union regional officer Stuart Roden and Councillor Rob Rotchell, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for health and social care, completed the panel.
It was broadly accepted during the meeting that local health mangers and Cornwall Council were doing all they could to “make the best of the inadequate budget” provided by the Government.
Mr George told the audience that they deserved to have their voice heard but said it was “clearly pointless” to depend on local Conservative MPs who he says are “content with the Government’s gradual winding down of the NHS”.
He added that the current MP for West Cornwall, Derek Thomas, declined an inviation to attend the meeting.
Mr Thomas has told Cornwall Live that, as far as he was concerned, party politics should be put to one side if the challenges facing social care services and the NHS were to be adequately addressed.
He said: “I’m committed to this and join over 90 MPs including Lib Dem Norman Lamb MP calling for an NHS and Care Convention to be set up in what is the NHS’ 70th year.
“There is no doubt that more money is needed. However, it is untrue to claim that NHS Kernow faces £270 million cuts.
“There is no hope for a constructive discussion about the NHS if some continue to peddle this information purely for political gain.”
He stressed that over the same period Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are set to receive a £142 million increase in their allocation.
As well as this, he said, while referring to NHS England data, that Cornwall received more than £1.5 million to assist with winter pressures.
Mr George added: “That’s why the meeting resolved to cut through the deliberate fog of uncertainty, bewildering management changes and mild management babble to take a fight to the Government.
“To campaign for the money which is desperately needed to bring our NHS up to a level equivalent to comparable developed countries in Europe and elsewhere.”
A plethora of subjects currently being experienced by the NHS were discussed by the panel and audience.
These ranged from concerns over the fate of community hospitals, hospital beds, a claimed £100 million local NHS debt and troubled mental health services.
Matters of overstretched staff and services, the potential risks of a reorganisation of the service and recent proposals to move radiotherapy from the Sunrise Centre at Truro to Plymouth were also debated, as were high numbers of cancelled operations and the uncertain future of Cornwall’s minor injury units and more.
The main discussion point was said to be the “inadequate NHS budget” and financial pressures.
The meeting took a vote and overwhelmingly vowed to “take the fight to Government”, including pressure to “put patients before profit” while supporting frontline staff.
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