Friday, 29 January 2010

Maybe, Davey

I wasn't intending to write about the Kingston Hospital issue today, but the combined effect of my blog postings on the issue earlier in the week and blog reader Axlrocky's tweets asking for a response have spurred Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey to send the following response to the Worcester Park Blog:

"I am sorry to say but this threat is very real. Both I and Susan Kramer in four separate meetings with 4 chief executives and one senior clinician. [sic]

You all might like to read BMA's report which mentions that London NHS is conducting a review of acute hospitals.

In South West London a review has been taking place, looking at all 4 hospitals in the area and their services, namely St.George’s Tooting, May Day Croydon, St Helier, Carshalton and Kingston Hospital itself. The NHS was to publish an “options” paper following this review – first in December and then in January.

This plan has been pulled, and NHS bosses have decided to publish nothing until after the election. Both I and Susan think it is wrong to keep this plan secret until after the election. We will be fighting to make sure this vital service is not closed.


You can find out more by visiting www.savekingstonhospital.com. And also sign the petition".

Hospitals and healthcare are such emotive issues in local communities - any threat to local hospital services, whether theoretical or actual, is bound to elicit passionate feelings.

I have no doubt that by campaigning on this issue Messrs Davey & Kramer will garner a lot of local support in the run up to the general election. However I also feel that the manner in which this has been conducted will lose them some sympathy and support.

If a threat to Kingston Hospital has been communicated to them from such senior levels then of course it is the perogative - if not their duty - to ensure it is communicated to those who will be affected by the ultimate decision.

My issue therefore is not with the fact that it has been raised, but the manner in which the issue has been presented - in particular that the first round in this battle was fired in the form of a photo opportunity with hastily-printed placards.

Of course they were not actually hastily printed - as I said in my previous post, the domain name savekingstonhospital.org.uk was registered at the beginning of December so this sudden urgent campaign has clearly been planned for some time.

Whilst I don't deny that the photo opportunity, the placards and the Facebook campaign have been successful in raising awareness of the issue, it reeks of electioneering and the unfortunate hootings of Lib Dem activist Dan Falchikov on a train to Waterloo have merely stoked the cynicism that now surrounds the campaign. 

Had the issue been raised in more considered, less sensationalistic way then I would be less inclined to be cynical of such things.

As it stands, I have every sympathy for the cause but every suspicion about the campaign.