Friday, 16 May 2014

Our Sutton West candidate has received some interesting campaign literature...

Frances says: "When every party says they want to save St Helier and
brandishes their own petition, it is difficult to know what to believe."

Frances Cornford, KOSHH Party candidate for Sutton West in the Sutton Council elections, discusses the election campaign literature that she has received in recent weeks:

I’ve had a lot of election literature coming through my door in the last few weeks. Sutton South ward, where I live, is currently split between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives with two Lib Dems and one Tory councillor. Lib Dem literature predominates and the claim to be fighting to save St Helier hospital looms large in their publications.

In one leaflet, they celebrate the demise of the Better Services Better Value review that proposed the closure of St Helier’s A&E, maternity, children’s hospital and renal services. Indeed they even give themselves the credit for saving the hospital claiming that:  
"Sutton Lib Dems and Paul Burstow MP have been at the forefront of the campaign to save A&E, Maternity and Children’s units at St Helier. 

Their campaign and petition of over 19,000 signatures was a major part of the reason plans to close our services were dropped."

In fact, Better Services Better Value was dropped because GPs in Epsom voted to remove themselves from the process and it had little to do with Liberal Democrats in Sutton. Their leaflet also fails to mention that the current threat to St Helier is largely due to the vast top down reorganisation of the NHS and the £20 billion of so-called efficiency savings which Paul Burstow has helped to pilot through the House of Commons as a Junior Health Minister.

After studiously ignoring the threat to St Helier in their early leaflets, the local Tories have now shamelessly jumped on the St Helier bandwagon. Perhaps having Dr Tiz North, running for the Keep Our St Helier Hospital Party in Sutton South has forced them to at least acknowledge the issue, although their promises are questionable to say the least.

Prospective Tory councillors pledge to continue the fight to protect St Helier and Conservative parliamentary candidate Paul Scully even has his own petition. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this breathtaking hypocrisy considering the Tories have lied consistently about their plans for the NHS. 

No more top down reorganisation, no cuts, no more closures of A&E and maternity units are just some of the election promises that were ripped up as soon as they got into power. Still, I am constantly astonished by the level of mendacity required to claim you are trying to save your local hospital while the party you represent destroys the entire health service. At the very least, the Sutton and Merton Conservative local government candidates should pledge to lobby their colleagues in Westminster over threats to our health services that will affect the whole community.

When every party says they want to save St Helier and brandishes their own petition, it is difficult to know what to believe. All you can do is look at what they have actually done. 

In the last four years, the coalition government has passed a bill that removes the duty of the Secretary of State to provide a universal health service. 

They have imposed £20 billion of cuts on the NHS so that £370 million of savings have to be made in South West London alone. 

They have opened up the NHS to private companies, with 70% of new contracts going to private providers. 

They are closing down A&Es and maternity units across London. All this is being done with no discussion, no democratic mandate and no public consultation. While their leaflets may trumpet support for St Helier Hospital, the Tories and Lib Dems are dismantling the NHS. And no NHS means no St Helier Hospital as we know it.

Photography by Paul McMillan

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