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Monday, 12 April 2010

Save NHS Facilities at the Royal Infirmary

Plans to break up health facilities at Cardiff Royal Infirmary are rolling ahead but so is the campaign to save them.

Socialist Party members have been at the heart of the campaign since the beginning, and helped to set up CRI - Save Its Services (CRI-S.I.S.) over a decade ago. First, campaigners - with a petition of over 100,000 names - prevented the selling off of the site, then we saved the buiding from demolition, next won £5million for extra services, and now a consultant employed by the Welsh Assembly has confirmed what we knew all along - that the CRI should be restored as a fully-functioning hospital. The pressure from the campaign has forced politicians to restore some NHS services to the CRI, including a badly needed walk-in clinic, but no casualty or triage facility, which the city centre badly needs. Emergency patients at the Heath hospital already face the longest waiting times in the country, thanks to the cutbacks in funding under New labour.

Since when is a "demolition" an "investment"?

The main parties are queuing up to take the credit for this victory (won by campaigning AGAINST them!) and they all support the "investment" approved by Labour's Assembly Health Minister. But we're not laying down our placards yet: take another look at the plans and you'll notice that 10% of the funding announced will be used up in knocking down all but the core of the original infirmary building, with no clear plans to replace. Freedom of Information requests to see a copy of Hunter's report have been denied. If the politicians of the main parties had listened to a previous report, we could have had a fully-refurbished CRI for £16-17 million, a fraction of the cost of this seemingly cut-price version on offer today.

A third of the buildings have gone already, and, if completed, 80% of the bed space which the CRI could house if renovated will disappear under the plans. One Health Board official dismissed this as getting rid of "100 years of tat" but the programme's motivated more by the need to make cuts and sell land off to developers if possible than it is with preserving the building. The Health Trust had its budget slashed by £20million last year, and the Assembly had the Grade II listing status removed from the bulidings so that the wreckers could take them down. If residents in the East of Cardiff aren't careful, they'll end up with another St David's - a small hospital in a massive carpark surrounded by private housing developments.

And we might not see an increase in NHS facilities in Cardiff under the plans. Services in Roath, Splott, Radyr and Butetown could be cut and moved to the CRI.

Liberal Democrats like our sitting MP have refused to say they won't support savage cutbacks in NHS services after the election. But Labour and the Tories - despite their claims to protect NHS spending - will do this same. After all - THIS IS EXACTLY THE PLEDGE THAT MARGARET THATCHER MADE before being elected, and all the main parties .

It's true: we do need to make cuts in the NHS. We need to cut the private profit-makers - like those running the carpark at the Heath and those hoping to make money out of CRI land - out of our public services. No more making money out of people being ill. The only way to cut bureacracy without cutting services is to run the NHS democratically, controlled and managed by health workers who know the job best and the working-class communities who rely on the services. No cuts in Hospitals to pay for MPs' Expenses and Bankers' Bonuses.

1 comment:

  1. The "investment" gets smaller and smaller. It has emerged that WAG stands to make over £1million from sales of health centres around the city which will be relocated to the CRI. See Local Health Board site, report from 29th April.