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Jo speaks at Cossham rally before councillors force Government to review MIU decision

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Jo spoke at a rally in Kingswood Park this morning with dozens of residents gathered once again to show the frustration and anger at the decision by NHS bosses not to provide a Minor Injuries Unit at Cossham Hospital.

Jo then made a statement at the Council's Health Scrutiny meeting, explaining why over the winter months residents have become increasingly frustrated and angry.

Jo said: “With every week and every month that the CCG considers and drafts and evaluates, we go without the urgent care services we were promised… Residents have not been given the answers they need to be convinced that the CCG’s alternative plans will work… People have become increasingly concerned about the clear strain local A&E departments have been under in recent weeks... On top of all this, there is the anxiety that comes from the decision to downgrade plans for the community hospital promised at Frenchay, despite local Tory MPs claiming it was already saved. The fear is that once again local services are being downgraded.”

The CCG reported that their plans are still being developed, so they were unable to set out the details or give the reassurances Jo and the Save Cossham Group had asked for.

Many residents left the meeting early because they felt the CCG still wasn't listening, and councillors voted unanimously to refer the CCG's decision not to provide the Minor Injuries Unit to the Government, to be reviewed by the Health Secretary.

The full text of Jo's statement is below.

* * *

"My name is Jo McCarron - and I am here once again to support residents who feel worried about the future of emergency health care in this area.

I'm out speaking to hundreds of residents every week across the constituency and I have to say the strength of feeling about the MIU has only intensified over the winter months.

I have attended a number of meetings to hear from the Clinical Commissioning Group how they intend to provide effective urgent care close to home.

I have said consistently that if the CCG could demonstrate clearly to residents how their proposed alternative plans either match or exceed the promised Minor Injuries Unit at Cossham, then we would support that alternative. 

But we have made it absolutely clear throughout that we will not accept yet another downgraded service.

I fully understand the pressure the CCG themselves are under – but the fact is, residents have still not been convinced. They are increasingly frustrated and angry. 

Why is that?

Firstly, because not only do we have no Minor Injuries Unit – but the CCG’s alternative plans are still only being drawn up.

Patience wore thin long ago. With every week and every month that the CCG considers and drafts and evaluates, we go without the urgent care services we were promised.

Secondly, because residents have not been given the answers they need to be convinced that the alternative plans will work.

Take the last scrutiny meeting.

Residents attended hoping that the most basic questions would be answered. We knew that there wouldn't be fine detail, but they hoped for some proper insight into the CCG’s alternative.

I left that meeting wondering if the CCG thought they has succeeded with their communications strategy when hordes of people walked out?

People had come for answers – and instead they got a slideshow. If there is one sure way to upset an already disgruntled crowd, it is by feeding them useless PR which they'll see straight through.

They just want you - the CCG - to talk to them and be straight, not show them slides. It's this kind of thing which has already caused distrust and anger - and perhaps that was not the intention, but it's most certainly the outcome.

The CCG has now given written answers to questions put to them by local councillors, but I’m afraid there are still big holes. For example: 

We still don’t know where the new urgent care services will be delivered.

We don’t know what level of additional staffing will be provided. 

We do know they are hoping to provide an urgent care service on evenings, weekends and bank holidays – but the wording shows that even that isn't concrete. 

Finally, people have become increasingly concerned about the clear strain local A&E departments have been under in recent weeks.

People are not stupid – they can see what is happening nationally.

The Government has piled pressure on our NHS, with nurses’ jobs cut, funding for social care slashed, and billions wasted on a top-down reorganisation to create Clinical Commissioning Groups such as this one – money that could have been spent on frontline care.  

Walk-in centres have been closed.

Waiting times have hit their worst level in 10 years. 

Hospitals have declared “major incidents” because their A&E departments couldn’t cope.

So it's no wonder people feel more insecure than ever about the provision of local emergency healthcare.

On top of all this, there is the anxiety that comes from the decision to downgrade plans for the community hospital promised at Frenchay, despite local Tory MPs claiming it was already saved. The fear is that once again local services are being downgraded.

People feel let down. Trust has been diminished.

So residents need reassurance today that decision-makers understand how important it is for them to have effective urgent care services close to home.

Today is crunch time, and I hope the the CCG can shed more light on the questions we have raised, because for residents this is the last straw."

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