Harness block

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In your September 4 edition, Mrs Ferrers-Guy wrote a letter deploring the total inadequacy of the exhibition ‘organised’ by Western Sussex NHS Hospitals Trust to make residents aware of what was to happen to the Southlands Hospital site once the trust had dealt the coup de grace to the Harness Block.

She was especially critical of the role of Adur District Council, playing Pontius Pilate while washing its hands of any involvement in the future of the site and disdaining to concern itself about what the medical facilities that will remain will comprise.

Councillor Coomber’s reply (letters, September 18) was hopelessly inadequate.

He, like most of his other councillor colleagues, has been completely disinterested in the struggle to save the hospital and references to the KWASH campaign cannot disguise how negligent the Tory-run council has been over the matter this time round. They have let down their constituents badly and allowed the hospital trust to do what they want without challenge.

And what about the outrageous decision by Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group to contract out the musculo-skeletal service to a BUPA-led consortium?

This development is going to directly impact on services provided by Southlands, with the physiotherapy section under threat, and Adur residents not guaranteed that they won’t have to make the journey to other parts of the county for treatment, like they do for so many other services that have been decanted out of Southlands.

This is not to mention fears that the consequences of this decision will adversely affect the ability of the other hospitals in the region to provide critical services, such as A&E.

All councillor Coomber can do is waffle on about how fine the Northbourne Medical Centre building is, while hospital services throughout the county are under threat.

Finally, it is important not to forget who is ultimately to blame for this parlous state of affairs.

Clinical commissioning groups are the product of the Tory government’s Health and Social Care Act.

They have been given responsibility for ‘purchasing’ services, and the act makes it clear that they can go outside the NHS for ‘any qualified provider’, thus threatening the integrity of the fabric of the NHS by opening it up to ‘competition’ from the private sector.

And there is no democratic control over these unelected bodies, headed by the likes of Dr Kate Armstrong, who don’t believe they have to account for their decisions, which in this case, as with so many others, is leading to the dismantling of the NHS.

This is an unpalatable truth that Mr Loughton, Mr Bottomley, councillor Coomber and others of their ilk will be keen to gloss over.

They cannot be trusted to campaign effectively over this issue because they put party loyalty before the interests of those they claim to represent.

So, while it is important to continue to pressure them to speak up on our behalf, any effective struggle has got to be led by people who are not complicit in trying to destroy it. That is why I would urge your readers to join the campaign by West Sussex 38 Degrees and Sussex Defend the NHS to do just that, to defend the NHS against those who would seek to destroy it.

S. Guy

Southview Road


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