Many thanks to you all for coming along to our meeting today. It's great that people are so willing to act upon the local issues they care about.
Every week I’m out with the Labour team meeting hundreds of people across the constituency, and it’s clear to me how strongly people feel about Cossham hospital – their hospital – but also the NHS in general.
Our NHS is perhaps the most treasured service in this country. It is one we in the Labour Party most value and will always fight to protect.
But at the moment it is being put under more and more pressure. More than 5000 nurses have been cut. Social care has been slashed.
And the Government has imposed a massive reorganisation that’s costing billions of pounds, that healthcare professionals didn’t want, and that risks putting profits before patient care.
All this after the Government promised the NHS would be their “number one priority”, and after the Government specifically promised there would be no such “top-down” reorganisation of the NHS.
Today, we are here to talk about what has been promised in our local hospital at Cossham.
The Labour team has been working hard alongside local residents to make sure residents across our community have their say – to make sure that the call is heard loud and clear for the Clinical Commissioning Group, and the Tory-led Government, to honour the commitment to provide a minor injuries unit at Cossham Hospital.
We all know how important it is to feel secure, knowing that your local hospitals are equipped to provide the care that you need. Our local Party speaks to hundreds of people on the doorstep every week – and what is clear is that people in Kingswood and District value Cossham hospital and want the very best care they can get there, as it is so close to home. People fear having to travel miles to reach hospitals like Yate or Southmead – they just want the security of service, especially for urgent treatment, at a nearby hospital.
As someone who grew up locally, living in Hanham for most of my life, I've used Cossham hospital myself in the past, before it had seen the £19 million pound investment. And what a difference. The hospital has been totally transformed.
And what a tribute to the difference people can make when they join together to campaign on something they care about – we have many people in this room to thank for saving Cossham and securing that investment by the last Labour Government.
But Cossham could be put to even better use – and the truth is residents believe they would benefit from a minor injuries unit. A minor injuries unit is what was promised to them after a long consultation. It is what they want and expect and deserve.
Our local Party has vowed to stand up for residents. We started a petition and each week we've been out with the The Save Cossham Hospital campaign group on the streets collecting signatures.
Barely a person passes without agreeing to sign.
We are continuing to collect for this petition every Tuesday and Saturday lunch time at 12.30pm, at the top of the steps outside the Kings Chase shopping centre.
The CCG have been very helpful and have already met with me and other residents to discuss the issue and Ben Bennett is here to represent them today and answer any questions you may have.
We know the door is not closed on this issue at this stage and we hope that our campaign will go some way to convincing the CCG of the strength of feeling on the issue.
We will hear the CCG's reviewed report at a coming council scrutiny meeting – we understand that this is likely to be on the 23rd April if the report is then ready.
We hope at that stage we will not have to press further with the campaign and a minor injuries unit will be on the table. But between now and then, we'll be keeping up the pressure in order to stand by residents, and any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.