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‘NHS Winter Watch’ campaign

Darenth Valley Hospital

Councillor Geoff Prout, leader of Dartford Council’s Labour group, has launched an ‘NHS Winter Watch’ campaign to track the signs of stress in the NHS over the winter.The NHS is likely to face increased pressure on frontline services throughout the winter, as a result of normal seasonal pressure, as well as the Government’s unprecedented financial squeeze. The Government has put enormous pressure on the NHS by breaking its promise on NHS funding. By switching £1bn from the NHS to social care, the health service receives a 0.5% real-terms cut over the next four years, breaking the Prime Minister’s promise.

Cllr. Prout has today written to Susan Ascott, chief executive of the Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust and Marion Dinwoodie, chief executive of West Kent PCT, asking them to detail the steps that are being taken to prepare for winter pressures, and to publish the changes that are resulting from the financial squeeze on the NHS, including:

+ patient waiting times
+ increasing hospital beds being cut
+ wards being mothballed
+ some operations being slowed up or stopped until next Spring
+ discharges being delayed
+ freezing of frontline staff posts.

He has also written to the local representatives of health unions, asking them to provide feedback on the cuts being made to frontline services, the effects of which their members will be seeing first hand.

Cllr. Geoff Prout said:

“Inevitably, the NHS faces increased pressures during the winter, but the Tory led government’s combination of cuts and reorganisations will undoubtedly leave local services here in Dartford substantially less able to meet those challenges.

“The Tories and their Lib Dem side-kicks promised to ring-fence NHS spending and people will be angered to learn that they are actually taking the axe to the health service. We plan to keep track of the pressures that are now mounting in our local health service as a result of government cuts.”

John Adams, Labour’s former parliamentary candidate for Dartford added:

“Tory MP Gareth Johnson has done nothing whatsoever to stop his own government from undermining the ability of Dartford’s health service to tackle the challenges that it always faces during the winter. It’s yet more proof that the Tories – and the Lib Dems – just don’t care about the NHS.”