West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Letter to Patricia Hewitt MP

Posted by wonkotsane on October 9, 2006

West Midlands NO! has written to the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt MP, regarding the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority and the West Midlands NHS Bank – both of which were secretly planned and introduced by the Department of Health.

We will cover the Strategic Health Authority and NHS Bank in the next day or two, so much to do and so little time!  In the meantime, you can get the basic gist of it from the letter …

Dear Ms Hewitt,

Earlier this year your department introduced a West Midlands regional NHS bank and compelled the local NHS trusts in the West Midlands to contribute towards it.  My own local NHS, Telford & Shrewsbury, are suffering heavily from debts and a budget deficit yet they were still required to find the money in their already overstretched budget to contribute

Shortly after this your department introduced a West Midlands regional Strategic Health Authority and my local NHS trust now has to report to a regional body that, based in Birmingham, little understands the needs or problems of a rural health service.  There was no public consultation on this and the first we knew about this was when the local newspaper reported, on the day it actually happened, that you had ordered the creation of the regional Strategic Health Authority

My local hospital, the Princess Royal in Telford, has had to make cutbacks in services so they can meet the British government’s targets on budget deficits and debt repayments that have been accrued as a result of the massive underfunding of the English NHS coupled with increased performance targets.  They have had to make some difficult decisions that have now been put to public consultation.  The most unpopular decision is to remove the provision of consultant-led paediatric care at the Princess Royal meaning seriously ill children will need to be taken by ambulance to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, some 20 minutes drive away.

However, despite the large-scale objections from the public aimed at the Princess Royal they are effectively powerless to change the proposed cuts because the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority makes the final decision.

The regionalisation of the NHS service is clearly another step towards the cementing of unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted regional government on England.  Important decisions such as this should be taken locally by people who understand the area and who can be held accountable by the people affected.  They shouldn’t be taken by unaccountable distant quango’s who simply cannot give the necessary amount of attention to individual issues that local NHS trusts can.

I urge you most strongly to disband this regional quango and to return decision making back to the local NHS trusts.  One way or another, regional government will be dismantled in this country.  The British government has the choice of doing it voluntarily or waiting for people power to force the issue.  Which do you choose Ms Hewitt?

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