Why would they want to close Kingston Hospital’s key health services?
This is the question many people are now asking Susan Kramer MP and I, as we campaign to save Kingston’s services like Accident and Emergency and Maternity from closure.
It’s a fair question. When we were first warned, I initially didn’t believe it myself. When we first spoke to local journalists, I described it as “unthinkable”.
Yet unfortunately, senior NHS managers and their favoured management consultants, McKinsey, are thinking the unthinkable.
While I’m sure we will soon be told this is about better patient care, I will find it hard to take that seriously. For the key driver behind all this is in reality money. I hope when they do eventually acknowledge these plans, they have the honesty to admit that.
I’ve been told the NHS in South West London is being told to plan to save £600 million over five years. This “off the record” source is backed up by figures from the British Medical Association.
While this is difficult to square with Government and Conservative pledges to maintain future health spending, the reality emerges from the small print: London’s NHS must find 3.5% efficiency savings, every year.
And, I’m told, it’s not just the hospital sector that will be targeted – but mental health, primary care (i.e., GPs) and community health too.
We all know the real reason behind this: it’s Gordon Brown’s financial deficit.
And we all know, because of that deficit, savings must be made.
Yet those savings simply cannot come at the cost of these essential frontline health services at hospitals like Kingston.