Wednesday, August 22, 2007

FIVE UPDATES: Cameron crap in his own backyard...

As if this morning's headlines weren't a disaster for David Cameron, his dissembling document on The NHS cuts that never were is now disintegrating even in his own back yard. Here's the facts:

Responding to angry claims by the David Cameron's own local hospital that the Conservatives had got their facts wrong, Tory health spokesperson Andrew Lansley denied ever claiming that A&E services were under threat.

He told 5Live:
we wouldn't get that wrong, blimey, it serves David Cameron's own constituency.
That was yesterday. This morning the BBC Today programme showed that the Tory document DID wrongly claim that A&E at the Horton Hospital, Banbury was under threat. Blimey indeed.

But it's even worse for Cameron. The Today programme has clearly demonstrated that Cameron's claims that maternity services in his own constituency are under threat is more scaremongering rubbish.

Sir William Stubbs chairman of the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust told the Today programme this morning:

As far as the A&E is concerned, there is no threat, indeed it's rather the opposite, the board has agreed to invest additional funds in improving both the consultant provision and the nursing provision at the A&E, so that is not something that people need to be concerned about, indeed people living locally can to be reassured.
That's more investment, not less Mr Cameron.

So what's left is the claim in his NHS cuts document that maternity services serving Mr Cameron's constituency are also under threat.

Sir William said changes to maternity services were taking place - but to improve, not cut the service. Change driven not by financial pressures, but by clinical need to modernise the service!

Sir William said it was a pity Opposition parties didn't check their facts before shooting nonsense from the hip. Indeed.

If the Tories had bothered to Google before publishing their damaging document, they would have found this Oxford and Radcliffe NHS Trust press release from just last month which includes the following information which would have saved a lot of egg on their faces:

(Since 2003)... a number of significant developments have taken place within the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals. These include:
* the opening of the new Emergency Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital;
* the opening of the Children’s Hospital, Oxford;
* the transfer of adult services from the Radcliffe Infirmary, to state of the art facilities within the new West Wing at the John Radcliffe Hospital;
* the construction of the new Oxford Cancer Centre (which will open in the Spring of 2008), at the Churchill Hospital;
* considerable investment in the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, including the opening of a new Medical Assessment Unit, the installation of a new CT scanner, and the refurbishment of many areas of the hospital
Sounds like more NHS investment not less in your own back yard Mr Cameron. Check it out.

Or this which took me three seconds to find on Google (italics are mine):

At its meeting in public yesteday (26 July 2007), the Board of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals accepted the recommendations of two clinical groups, and the Executive Board of the Trust, to implement changes to the way in which some of the services at the Horton General Hospital will be delivered in the future, including the expansion of some services. In making this decision, the Board also took account of the report and recommendations of the Stakeholder Panel.

Chairman Sir William Stubbs said: “The need to consider changes at the Horton General Hospital reflects our growing concern that we could not continue to run some services safely or to the highest current standard. We have a duty to our patients to do both.

“The decision of the Board to accept these changes is based on extensive evidence and advice from clinical experts, including staff running the services, and national clinical leaders in their fields. Changes in medical education, restrictions on the hours which doctors can work, and best practice guidance which indicates the need for fewer more specialist centres to provide services such as paediatric s and obstetrics, have all been factors which have been taken into account.

Non Executive Director Caroline Langridge said: "As a resident of North Oxfordshire, I want to ensure the best possible services for local people at the Horton General Hospital. Over the past two years, I have become convinced of the need for change in the paediatric, obstetric and gynaecology services. I have wanted to ensure that the changes were used as an opportunity to develop some first class services at the Horton, and were not simply a series of cuts. I am extremely pleased at the enhancements to the original proposals, as these allow for a number of important developments.

I am a keen supporter of birthing centres, and believe that the extra investment which we have agreed for the Horton will enable us to develop a first rate facility for women in North Oxfordshire. I also believe that the new children’s service will quickly be established as a real asset to the area. I have advocated the establishment of a women’s surgical ward at the Horton for some time, and am pleased that this is now possible.
Blimey indeed.


UPDATE 1: The Daily Mirror reports that 15 - more than half - of the hospitals on Cameron's list have now complained that he has got his facts wrong.

UPDATE 2: The Tories have now apologised to hospitals in Telford and to the Horton in Banbury - in his own backyard.

UPDATE 3: The Tories have issued a press release refusing to back-down.

UPDATE 4: Half an hour after their press release in UPDATE 3 (above), journalists were pointing that it contained a major error. A new corrected press release has now been issued.

UPDATE 5: Bizarely, the Tories have now withdrawn their apology to the Telford Hospital, saying it was a mistake by a junior researcher. Channel 4 News reports that Telford Hospital say they have not been informed that the apology has been withdrawn.



Further Background:

See yesterday's posts Tory MP says sorry to hospital

Cameron battered in first eight rounds

Major's aide tells Tories to do more homework

11 comments:

Mike Ion said...

The wheels really are coming off the Cameron bike! It is a delight to watch the Tories get shafted by their own spin!

JustNotSerious said...

This gets increasingly hilarious. How many days until the marvellously-groomed Sir Michael Spicer starts getting letters from backbenchers again?

banbury resident said...

Phil,

This is not how the residents of Banbury and the surrounding constituencies (one of which is David Cameron's, although Banbury itself is Tony Baldry's constituency) see it at all, and they are actively campaigning against the proposals which they regard as cuts.

We see cuts to our maternity services, cuts to paedeatric services, cuts to Obstetrics and Gynae services.

Banbury has had a 24x7 maternity/paediatric service since the 1970s when a little boy died because they could not get him to Oxford in time. The then secretary of state for health, Barbara Castle, following a public enquiry required that a 24x7 service be established in Banbury.

It's also fair to say that the residents regard this 'service reconfiguration' as the thin end of the wedge and believe it will lead to the closure of A&E. If paedeatric services are reduced, then it becomes a difficult call for a parent as to whether they take their child direct to Oxford or to Banbury, knowing that they will in most likelyhood be transferred to Oxford.

By all means knock DC for his lack of homework, but beware of the spin coming from Sir William Stubbs, who will probably have to force these unpopular changes through on the residents of Banbury.

And if you are interested google Sir William Stubbs, especially his time at the Dfes and the controversy surrounding that.

fairdealphil said...

Banbury:

Thanks for your comment.

You may be interested to know that the evening paper in Banbury sees it my way, not yours:

From the Banbury edition of the Oxford Mail:

"Managers at The Horton Hospital in Banbury say the Tories were wrong to claim the hospitals's A&E department was under threat of closure..."

http://www.oxfordmail.net/display.var.1634007.0.cameron_challenged_by_nhs.php

Understand what you say about the 1970s. But times change...

for example, we still had the huge Victorian mental institutions then. And before that we had TB sanatoriums.

Thankfully the NHS has changed. And it must continue to change to meet modern standards of clinical excellence.

If you read my original post, you'll see the new birthing centre in Banbury is welcomed by others, not just Sir William.

You can't believe a word of Cameron's scaremongering about A&E...his health spokesperson has now claimed he never said it anyway (which he did).

A&E...there has been massive INVESTMENT in and MODERNISATION of local A&E services after a generation of being run down and starved of cash by the party of Mr Cameron.

btw, it's not me knocking Cameron for his lack of homework. As i say in my earlier post, those are the direct words from John Major's former press secretary Sheila Gunn.

banbury resident said...

Phil,

With the greatest respect that is an Oxford paper not a Banbury paper, the local Banbury paper is the Banbury Guardian.

Have a look at the site and search for Articles on Horton Hospital.

It will bring back:

GPs fear the 'house of cards' may tumble

Horton 24 Hour Hopes Dashed

65-mile trips to Hospital

Cottage hospital fears for Horton

btw I was agreeing it was fair enough to knock Cameron for his lack of homework, however it does not invalidate the fact that a great many residents of Banbury from across all sides of the political spectrum and including many health workers are concerned, and regard service reconfiguartion as cuts.

fairdealphil said...

Banbury,

I was quoting from the BANBURY edition of evening paper.

I see from Channel Four news that David Cameron has been forced to apologise to the Horton Hospital for getting his facts wrong.

banbury resident said...

Phil,

Again with the greatest respect, I'm sorry but the Mail is just not considered a local paper in Banbury. In fact I don't even think there's a specific Banbury edition in print, but I could be wrong - never buy it you see!

Local people buy the Banbury Guardian - if you are house hunting in Banbury and around you buy the Guardian, not the Oxford Mail, which I would consider to be the acid test for a local paper.

If Cameron specifically said A&E Services at the Horton were to be cut then he's probably wrong.

If he said some or all of Maternity, Paedeatrics, Obstetrics and Gynae Services at the Horton were to be cut then he's probably correct.

If you can link an unequivocable statement from Sir William Stubbs or a health mininister that the Horton will continue to provide full Consultant led, 24x7 Maternity care and Paedeatrics for the foreseeable future then I'll be happy, along with most of the residents of Banbury.

fairdealphil said...

banbury res:

the only paper Oxon paper i could find on the web carrying anything on Cameron's cock-up is the county evening paper, the Oxford Mail - oddly enough in its special "Banbury news" section.

No mention on the Banbury Guardian website, nor in the Banbury Cake though i accept that they are your local rags.

Cameron did say A&E services at Horton were under threat and I understand he has now apologised for his error.

As originally posted, Sir William Subbs, chairman of the Oford Radcliff Hospitals NHS Trust has today highlighted the extra investment in Horton's A&E services.

As for maternity etc services, I can only report that Sir William said on national radio this morning that they were not under threat - quite the contrary.

I also see from the Trust's website, as previously posted, that Banbury is to get a new midwife led birthing centre.

Sir William and the Trust are adamant that the changes are clinical needs led and not cash cuts.

I also see from their website that Horton Hospital has benefitted from huge investment in recent years.

Chris Paul said...

Hee hee hee. Cameron's Comatose Tories. But at least they got funds ... There's a story here to make war mongerers everywhere moist. Political party cop donations from gun makers. How was this NOT Labour that organised this coup? We are slipping. Perhaps this gun maker thinks the Tories would make more fearsome warriors?

banbury resident said...

Hello Phil,

The new midwife led birthing centre is at the expense of the existing 24x7 consultant (obstetric) led midwifery unit, somehow that doesn't sound like an improvement.

This will mean that all first time mothers and mothers with even mildly difficult pregnancies will have to stay in Oxford involving journey's of 30+ miles each way. Any mother who finds herself in difficulty during labour will have to be ambulanced to Oxford, at a time when delays cost lives, and that of course assumes there is an ambulance available at the time.

The Special Care Baby Unit will be closed. It is difficult enough for parents when they babies suffering from the most critical conditions without adding to their misery with frequent and long jourmey's to Oxford.

The current 24x7 Children's ward is to be downgraded to a day centre.

The A&E unit will not have access to a 24 hour paediatric consultant, so many seriously ill children could face delays of many hours before being transferred to Oxford for treatment.

Microbiology will be transferred to Oxford - the fear here is that will mean delays (affecting all services) and people with chronic conditions will be faced with repeated outpatients visits to the JR. For people like you and me that will be an inconvenience, but without doubt this will impact the frail, the elderley and those on low incomes the most.

Just to labour the point here (no pun intended) Banbury can be regarded as a relatively prosporous area, however it contains an area known as Bretch Hill which I undertand to be the second most disadvantaged area/estate in the county (55.8 per cent of households are not owner occupiers.)

In terms of funding this is what the Trust have to say in their last published annual reports:

Despite this strong performance, Oxfordshire’s NHS funding does not match the present levels of demand - this meant that last year the ORH received £12 million less than expected, based on the number of patients treated. This problem continued into 2006/7; the NHS in Oxfordshire needs to make savings of £58 million to bring expenditure into line with funding. As the largest part in the county’s healthcare economy, the ORH (Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust including the Horton) must reduce expenditure by £33 million.

Coincidentally this ties in with their desire to reconfigure the services at the Horton (?).

The trusts site finally notes the following in their "Latest on the Horton Consultation - 27 July 2007:

The stakeholder group could not give full support to the proposals, a small majority continuing to feel that the case for change had not been made, and that the proposals represented a significant downgrading of access to services and a worsening of choice for women and children in the Banbury area.

And if you are in left in any doubt you are more than welcome to contact Dr Peter Fisher a former consultant at the Hospital, who has campaigned against the cuts and who is also a local Labour councillor (retired?) - Peter Fisher, President, NHS Consultants' Association, Banbury, Oxon OX17 1QH.

(Apologies for the length of the post).

Geoffrey Brooking said...

I have been doing some temping in the post room at the JR recently and the management is so corrupt it is beyond belief but I'm saving my revelations for when the time is right because they go well beyond what Cameron and any other tories have so far said.