Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 19th July 2017

It has been claimed that the NHS is our national religion, we certainly all call upon it in moments of desperation, usually on matters of life and death. So, it is no surprise that when we hear about cuts to our local services people get very angry. No wonder then that the Government is increasingly resorting to making their cuts via the backdoor.

First we had the Sustainability and Transformation Plans, put together in secret to show how savings could be made and then scaled back to the point of utter meaninglessness before they were published. Then, in reaction, Conservative-controlled West Sussex County Council proposed closing Crawley’s Clinical Commissioning Group, but the really scary stuff is what is now being proposed.

We now hear that Crawley Hospital’s stroke unit is threatened with closure, with services being centralised in Brighton. Centralising services can improve the quality of care, but when it comes to strokes the most important thing is response times. Crawley is at the heart of the sub-region and has far better in-bound transport connections than any other town in the area. If services are to be centralised anywhere, we are clearly the best place to centralise them.

Only this week, a national newspaper highlighted that as part of £55m of budget cuts to our local NHS, patients at risk of heart attacks are set to be denied vital angiogram tests and lifesaving angioplasty procedures. Like most people I utterly opposed the loss of A&E and Maternity from Crawley, but unlike some I would never promise to build a new hospital unless I knew I could keep my word.

Crawley’s MP happily wags his finger about the historic loss of A&E, now that his Government is threatening lifesaving services in Crawley what is he prepared to do? If a billion pounds can easily be found to buy DUP votes, surely there is £55m to save lives in Surrey and Sussex. While building a new hospital may not be possible, we must do everything we can to preserve and improve the services we have. Our lives quite literally depend upon it.

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