By the Chair of Bude Labour Party (other people are entitled to publish opinion pieces, too; indeed, it would be good if someone did!)
While ‘temporary’ night time Closure of Stratton MIU has been a major concern for local people, there is growing disquiet that this action is part of a wider Cornish picture.
The overnight closure of the Minor Injuries Unit at Bude-Stratton has sharpened attention of what health bosses really mean when they say that any loss of service is only “temporary.” Having said originally that the Bude-Stratton MIU closure was due to staffing difficulties, health bosses are also claiming that our local population density is insufficient to justify the cost.
Pressure is now growing for the Bude loss of service – together with the ‘temporary’ closures of Minor Injury Units at Saltash and Fowey, the Bodmin Treatment Centre, and 12 community beds at Edward Hain hospital, St Ives – to also be referred under Section 30.
A Section 30 Referral is one of the measures available to the Health & Adult Social Care scrutiny committee and would force health secretary, Matt Hancock, to intervene and make a final ruling.
Cornwall Council’s management of our NHS will come under renewed scrutiny this month as a result of the loss of a high-profile mental health service which suggests the future is more about the disintegration of health and social care, rather than working closer together.
Oakleigh House, a unique respite centre, near Menheniot, has since 2002 been funded 50-50 by Cornwall Council and NHS Kernow clinical commissioning group. The new projected Integrated Care Partnership is intended to bring health and social services even closer together, but NHS Kernow has said there is no scope for maintaining Oakleigh House because it does not fit with the new organisation’s five-year-plan. Some Cornwall councillors are furious that as co-sponsors of the commissioned service they have had no opportunity to even debate the issue.
“If this is integration, then God help us,” said one councillor.
The closure of Oakleigh, (due to occur on the 31st March) with no public consultation, has led to renewed suggestions that the entire future vision of how Cornwall’s health service should be run is not fit for purpose – and that some aspects of it should be referred to the Secretary of State.
Cornwall councillor Colin Martin, a Liberal Democrat who has previously been one of the most enthusiastic advocates of the project, told BBC Radio Cornwall’s Laurence Reed that the loss of service was so significant that the committee of which he is vice chairman should consider referring it to Whitehall.
The committee is due to meet on 13th March and it would be surprising if councillors are not met by protestors, (including Labour members from Bude) furious at County Hall’s apparent indifference to the loss of health services.
Thanks a million! Labour wins extra cash for children’s mental health provision
As well as fighting local cuts, Labour is working hard to find ways to secure the services we have.
This week, Cornwall’s Labour councillors scored a stunning victory at County Hall when they secured a 54-53 victory for measures which will boost spending on school nurses/counsellors and children’s mental health provision by £1 million – without increasing council tax.
Cornwall Liberal Democrats had argued against the proposal. But the Labour idea – taking a tiny amount from the surplus which the Lib Dems had wanted to stash into their £373 million cash reserves – was so obviously sensible that it attracted support from across the council chamber.
Yesterday’s vote was the first time Labour has won a budget motion at a full meeting of Cornwall Council and suggests that with more councillors, Labour will make a radical difference to the way Cornwall is run.
The budget amendment tabled was by Labour councillors Jayne Kirkham and Dorothy Kirk.
Jayne told councillors: ‘Pastoral care in schools has dropped at a time we need it more than ever as non-teaching staff and teaching assistants have been lost to try to cope with cuts to education. There is often no one for our most vulnerable children to go to for support and some care.’
The Lib Dems are still cutting £77 million from Cornwall’s public services over four years. Despite this, the Lib Dems refused to increase council tax by as much as the government allows and voted down another Labour proposal which would have generated an extra £11 million in revenue and strengthened the council’s ability to defend those most in need.
(Many thanks to Julie Penhaligon of Cornwall Reports who provided information to support this article.)