Mr Mayor I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak in support of Councillor Jasbir Annand’s motion concerning the future of Ealing Hospital. I would urge the chamber to read between the lines of this motion and therein read that what we are discussing tonight is a process that undoubtedly would see the eventual closure of the Hospital. That’s where I feel – and quite confidently – we are headed.
The brevity of this motion embarrasses the lengthy paperwork that currently poses as a consultation document. Less a consultation, more so a cleverly disguised dictation of what our opinion as local residents and hospital users should be. Don’t be fooled, this consultation offers one option, closure, and only suggests we are being listened to when we evidently are not.
If we were being genuinely consulted then we wouldn’t need a document so verbose in detail that it drowns the principle, nor indeed would we have need of Councillor Annand’s motion, as good as it is. Instead our response would be 3 words: “leave Ealing alone!”
Unfortunately, that option isn’t offered to us by a Government that so often claims to champion localism, but has proven such championing to be only a convenient mantra.
What we are facing is a centrist diktat by the Government, and an ignoring of the localist outrage so evident at public meetings such as that which took place a fortnight or so ago at Hanwell Methodist Church which I was lucky enough to attend. Mr Mayor what was so encouraging about that meeting was the heated opposition to these proposals from across the community and cross party unanimity amongst local councillors.
It is insulting to the people of Ealing and an affront to us all that not only are we presented with an impenetrable document, a farce of a consultation, and the fettering of discretion but by way of explanation we have the management speak of Mark Spencer who rather inanely assures, and I quote, “we looked at this very hard [and] we need to concentrate some of our services on to fewer sites so we can produce higher quality of care”. To paraphrase our own indefatigable Ealing North MP Steve Pound what is the point of these centres of excellence if you cant get to them.
I wonder aloud; if, God forbid, the worst should happen, let us say in the middle of the night or indeed the day, and one of us here, or our family, or our neighbour should be rushed to an A & E department, some distance away, in pain, potentially at serious risk to their long term health or life, will these inane platitudes belying that these proposals are in fact about costing rather than clinical need offer any solace to the good people of not just Ealing, but Northwest London and beyond. We are being told that a healthy balance sheet is worth more than a healthy resident.
I have another fear Mr Mayor, that of Creeping Normalcy, or if you will death by a hundred closures. We have seen the demise of our Stroke Unit, we have seen threats to our Urology department and we now face nothing less than the beginning of the end for our Accident and Emergency. We are seeing an incremental closure, service-by-service, department-by-department.
I hesitate to describe David Cameron’s response to Virendra Sharma MP question early on in this Tory-led Government concerning the future of Ealing Hospital so strongly as an outright lie. However, increasingly that’s exactly what the Prime Minister’s response “There are no plans to close Ealing Hospital” sounds like. He may not be directly at the helm of these proposals, but he remains the captain of the ship.
Mr Mayor journalist Clare Rayner wished her last words to be recalled as “if David Cameron screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him”. I’m interested to know, does Clare Rayner keep the Prime Minister up late at night, or his conscience?
What is really odious about these proposals is how the saving of one hospital means the closure of another. This unforgiveable pitting of communities against one another in some post-modern gladiatorial combat is not just disgusting; but seems to have such a capricious sentiment behind it as whoever shouts loudest will be heard. That such irrational logic be behind such a decision leads me to conclude that we may even be facing grounds for judicial review.
© Ara Iskanderian July 2012