East Berkshire Green Party is pledging its support publicly for the growing campaign to keep Heatherwood hospital open, initiated by the group Windsor and Slough against The Cuts (WSATC) and groups in Bracknell such as Defend Our Community Services (DOCS). A major march and rally is being held in Ascot this coming Sat, Oct 8, 11am, starting at Ascot Racecourse car park 6 on the High Street.
Windsor Green Party spokesperson, Marc Green, has been pivotal in raising awareness of this threat. He has been running street stalls with WSATC, helping to organise both their petition and the one on the council website against closure, doing radio interviews, keeping the local press informed of developments, meeting his local MP Adam Afriyie to request support, and helping to organise a public meeting at Windsor Boys School last Wednesday (28 Sep) at which he also spoke.
Berkshire PCT (Primary Care Trust) is claiming that it needs to save £37 million from its budget as a result of the cuts imposed by central government. Whilst it is true that government is reducing funding to the NHS in real terms, the formula for calculating what Berkshire residents receive is based on woefully out of date and inaccurate data and results in the 9th lowest rate of funding per person in the country. Were that to be adjusted to the national average there would be no local funding shortfall.
The matter will be put to official public consultation in the new year once the three proposed options have been fully costed. Two of these options involve closing Heatherwood altogether, and one of these would centralise everything in Wexham Park, Slough, which is already at full stretch. The final option would still involve selling off part of the site to the private sector. However, some services are already being wound up and staff laid off, with other contracts due to end in the near future. This suggests that Berkshire PCT have already made their decision to close before the public are even consulted.
The only way we can prevent this potentially devastating closure is for large numbers of the public to shame and embarrass those responsible, by demonstrating in public, signing petitions, and writing directly to both local MPs and the leadership of Berkshire PCT. There is not much time in which to do this!
EBGP takes the view that central government must intervene to make NHS funding fair for Berkshire. At the same time, we deplore the way the coalition cuts agenda is allowing the axe to fall on frontline public services, in direct contradiction to David Cameron's pre-election promises. Again, the banking industry bail-out is costing the public dear.
If you wish to help with this campaign in any way, please come to the march on Sat 8th Oct in Ascot. Badges, stickers and T-shirts will be available to help us spread the word.
Any campaigning assistance will be much appreciated. Contact Marc Green in Windsor: firstname.lastname@example.org.