‘Stop cuts to health services’
George Welch, Oxfordshire Guardian, 21 December 2016
Concerned campaigners have put pressure on Oxfordshire County Council to resist cuts to health services.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside county council buildings on Tuesday as council chiefs debated a motion on the cuts facing the NHS in Oxfordshire. In a leaked document released by Reading Borough Council last month, it was revealed that a secretive ‘sustainability and transformation plan’ (STP) predicts a deficit of £479m by 2020 across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and West Berkshire (BOB).
With Oxfordshire set for a £247m deficit, campaigners say they are worried about the implications across the county’s health services. In particular, campaigners fear for the county’s adult social care and the potential closure of community hospitals.
Leader of the Green Group on Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) David Williams said: “We are urging the leader of the county council to write to the Secretary of State for health asking him how our very fragile NHS is expected to cope with demand in the future.”
Mr Williams added that the NHS needs more funding as Oxfordshire, with its ageing population, continues to grow.
He added: “We need more health spending to combat staff shortages, the collapse of adult social care spending, the gradual reduction in GP’s surgeries in the county and financial pressures on pharmacies.
“We need all other political parties to resist the continuing austerity measures in the NHS, committing to at least a four per cent in spending each year as a first step to a realistic level of NHS spending.”
The motion, which was passed, was put forward by Labour county councillor for Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst, Cllr Glynis Phillips.
The motion read: “OCC is deeply concerned about the BOB STP.
“In particular we are concerned about the implications for adult social care in the county, and for our infrastructure as hospitals close and services are centralised.
“The consultation with Oxfordshire has been derisory with the full plan not having been made public during the numerous meetings which have been held.”
Oxfordshire Keep Our NHS Public chair Dr Ken Williamson said:
“We urge Oxfordshire’s Countym Councillors to insist on the plans being made available in full for public consultation.
“We urge our councillors to call a halt to the process by challenging NHS England and the Secretary of State for health. It is very worrying that no extra funding was agreed for the NHS and social care in the Chancellor’s Autumn Financial statement. We need to fund our health and social care at least as well as our European neighbours.”
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