Twelve trade union branches, representing tens-of-thousands of workers across Leicester and Leicestershire, have endorsed an open letter directed at the chairman of University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust Karamjit Singh, raising serious concerns about proposed changes to Leicester’s hospitals.
UHL is planning to reorganise acute hospital services in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland via a project for which it is seeking capital investment from the Department of Health of around £456m.
The plans involve closing the General Hospital as an acute hospital and consolidating acute services onto two sites – the Royal Infirmary and the Glenfield. A large amount of land, especially at the General Hospital site, will then be sold for other use.
The letter (copied below) has so far been signed by Leicester Unite Health, Leicester Unite Retired Members, Leicester Unite Community, Leicester Unite branch LE48, Leicester City Unison, Leicester National Education Union, East Midlands Bakers’ Union (BFAWU), Leicester and District Trades Union Council, PCS Leicestershire R&C branch, GMB Leicester Services Branch, Loughborough University UCU Branch Committee, and UCU Leicester College Branch. Contact email@example.com if your trade union would like to support the letter.
Tom Barker, Secretary of Save Our NHS Leicestershire, said:
“It is clear to us that workers in the East Midlands have some very serious concerns about UHL’s plans.
“The Trust’s plans do not include an increase in the number of beds, even though local hospitals do not have enough.
“UHL believes an expansion in community services will offset rising need for hospital care. But underfunding in the NHS means that services in the community are already falling apart. This is exacerbated by cuts in social care, caused by Tory austerity.
“The failure of a similar approach in London, where £76m was mis-spent on management consultants who attempted to put the burden of cuts onto services in the community, should be a warning sign to UHL.
“And now we find out that UHL plans to sell off land as early as next year, before a business plan has ever been seen by the public.
“We welcome more funding in our NHS, but we need to know that this money is being spent to future-proof our services. Selling off land while not making the full business case public does not fill us with confidence.”
- Virtually no detail about the plans has been put into the public domain and made available for public scrutiny. UHL’s detailed pre-consultation business case for reorganising acute services has been kept secret. Opportunities for meaningful change to plans through later formal public consultation will be limited.
- UHL’s new plans do not include an increase in the number of beds, despite ongoing problems with capacity in local hospitals. UHL’s spokesman has said the reconfigured hospital facilities will have 2,048 beds. In May 2018, UHL had 2,045 beds. Even though current bed numbers are closer to 2,000, this represents no real increase to address (a) the current capacity constraints and (b) future capacity needs arising from an ageing population, a growing population and rising need.
- The local NHS believes an expansion in community services and different pathways of care will offset rising need for hospital care. However, community services are under review and these plans have not yet been written while the previous plans (the Sustainability and Transformation Plan) failed in large part because local NHS leaders were excessively optimistic in what they believed their reorganised services could achieve; as a result, they failed to get ‘the sums to add up’.
- Once funding has been agreed in principle for a local hospital plan by the Department of Health, there is a danger it will lock the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland into an inadequate facility for the next twenty years with no hope of large-scale government funding from future government during this period to address the shortage of hospital services. So it is important to get it right now.
- Trade unions, local MPs, councillors and the public need to know what the details of the hospital plan are and what the details of the wider NHS plans for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are before UHL seeks approval of the pre-consultation business case. It is not clear to us why the detailed plans are being withheld from us and from the public when they are needed for informed engagement.
Save Our NHS Leicestershire will be hosting a public protest to oppose UHL’s plans on Saturday November 16 at midday at Leicester Clock Tower.
Save Our NHS Leicestershire will also be premiering a free viewing of ‘Under the Knife’, a film documenting the privatisation of the NHS, on Monday October 14, at 7pm at the Phoenix Cinema.
To find out more or get involved contact: firstname.lastname@example.org