Last chance to save the NHS this half term - a week of hospital marches, rallies and events
Between Saturday, October 22 and Saturday October 29, Save the NHS campaigners and members of the public will march between hospitals in County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire, in an event called 'Footprints March for the NHS' to protest at rapid, wide ranging cuts to health services, which they have reason to believe will put lives at risk.
By 21st October, local NHS bosses have to submit a so-called Sustainability and Transformation Plan to the government quango, NHS England. It has to include further opportunities for NHS privatisation, and big cuts to NHS services across the region - called “Footprint 3” by NHS England.
Organisers are hoping for a good turn out and all are welcome to take part, for whatever distance they can manage, or just to come to rallies and social events along the way.
Information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting www.999nhsnortheast.org orwww.facebook.com/nhsfootprints.
Setting out from Northallerton, the march will take in hospitals in Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Consett, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton, with public meetings and rallies held along the way.
The itinerary for the march is:
Saturday, October 22: Friarage Hospital (Northallerton) to Darlington Memorial
Sunday, October 23 Darlington Memorial Hospital to Bishop Auckland Hospital
Monday, October 24: Bishop Auckland Hospital to Shotley Bridge Hospital
Tuesday, October 25: Shotley Bridge Hospital to University Hospital of North Durham
Wednesday, October 26: University Hospital of North Durham to Hartlepool Hospital
Thursday, October 27: Hartlepool Hospital to James Cook Hospital (Middlesbrough)
Friday, October 28: James Cook Hospital (Middlesbrough) to North Tees Hospital (Stockton)
Saturday, October 29: North Tees Hospital (Stockton) to Darlington Memorial Hospital
A full itinerary with precise times of departure and arrival at each destination along the way, and of evening meetings, can be found at:
Sustainability and Transformation Plans across England have been drawn up in conditions of secrecy, under instructions from NHS England because of their “contentious” nature.
A draft version of the NE “Footprint” Sustainability and Transformation Plan shows a proposal to cut the area’s Accident and Emergency and acute care hospitals from five to just two or three. Consultant-led maternity and paediatric services are shown as being cut from four to two or three with neonatal services also at risk. (An image of the table from the draft plans showing the proposed cuts is attached)
Jo Land, one of the Footprints March organisers, said:
“All the health services in our Footprint are at risk and we believe that we can only save the NHS services that our life may depend on by standing together and fighting for all of them.
“We are organising this march because we believe that these planned cuts are going to mean the end of the NHS as we know it. If we don’t act now, the NHS will go the way of NHS dentistry, and we all know how difficult it is to find an NHS dentist. Services will be rationed and people will not get all the care they need"
“People will have to take out insurance and pay private healthcare companies for the services that are no longer available to them"
“Trust bosses are saying that concentrating services on fewer sites will improve patient care, but what about when patients don’t arrive at A&E within the ‘golden hour’ that can save your life? What about when people without transport can’t access services? What about when there just aren’t enough staff or beds to go round and people are denied care? Services are already being rationed in other parts of the country – it will be coming here soon if we don’t stop it.”
Footprints March for the NHS is backed by 999 Call for the NHS, Keep Our NHS Public Durham, People’s Assembly North East, Unite Community Tees and Darlington Trades Council.
999 Call for the NHS activists at Durham Miners’ Gala - image by Steve Connor
Map of Footprints Hospitals by Steven Carne