'We Will Fight Them Every Inch of The Way'

Council Leader Julian Bell writes on threats to local health services

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Time to Scrap 'Fatally Flawed Hospitals Plan'

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As I write this I am heading home on the train after a very successful Labour Party Conference in Manchester. Ed Miliband's speech on Tuesday was a game changer and a pivotal moment in British politics as he showed strategic political brilliance taking on the discarded Tory mantle of "One Nation" and delivering it with stunning skill and passion without notes or auto cue prompts. It was an extraordinary performance and a confirmation to the public of what many of us in the Labour Party have known for some time, that he is a Prime Minister in waiting.

I had hoped to speak to Conference myself to highlight our Save Our Hospitals Campaign but the passion that the NHS generates meant only a handful of delegates were chosen from the dozens trying to catch the Chair's eye. Here however is the speech I would have given if I had got the chance.

Chair, Conference, Cllr Julian Bell, Ealing Central & Acton CLP, Leader of Ealing Council and member of the London Health Improvement Board.

Yesterday Ed Miliband in his fantastic speech said what we and the country all know - "you just can't trust the Tories on the NHS." He also talked about David Cameron's "pause" during the passage of the government's Health and Social Care Bill, the wasteful top down NHS reorganisation that David Cameron after this meaningless "pause" pushed through in the face of universal opposition from Doctors, nurses and health practitioners. During that "pause" David Cameron decided to visit Ealing Hospital to speak about his future plans for the NHS.

Conference let me tell you what is now happening to Ealing Hospital and 3 other west London Hospitals. They are under threat with a preferred proposal currently being consulted on that would mean the closure of 4 out of 9 A&Es in NW London at Ealing, Central Middlesex, Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals; the closure of Ealing's Maternity Unit and paediatric inpatient service and all acute services will mean the effective closure of Ealing Hospital. So much for David Cameron's fine words about Ealing Hospital - we are now in a desperate fight to save our local hospitals - even a bare knuckle fight to save Ealing Hospital but I don't see the Prime Minister wading into the fight to help us.

Before the election Andrew Lansley specifically spoke about there being no plans to close Ealing's A&E. Speaking about the 100,000 patients a year who attend Ealing's A&E he said, "where will they go." Well Mr Lansley, Mr Hunt, Mr Cameron that is the same question that the 10,000 Ealing residents who marched through Ealing recently and the tens of thousands who have signed our petition against the closures are asking.

Where will all those patients go when A&E services are already close to breaking point at surrounding Hospitals and waiting times are getting longer and longer?

There are flaws in the clinical case behind these proposals and they are opposed by GPs and Hospital consultants in Ealing. Ealing Council has commissioned an independent report by NHS expert Tim Rideout that exposes these flaws in the clinical and business case for these reckless and risky changes that will leave a growing population the size of Leeds in North West London without A&E cover and vital acute health services.

These proposals are financially driven not clinically supported and we will fight them every inch of the way. We will fight to save our hospitals. We will fight to save our NHS. They show that you can't believe a word David Cameron says about the NHS and that our leader the next Prime Minister Ed Miliband is 100% right to say "you just can't trust the Tories on the NHS.

Cllr Julian Bell
Labour Leader of Ealing Council  Representing Greenford Broadway Ward


9th October 2012