An old rebel like me has seen it all and fought ‘em all. It comes as a shock to more ‘respectable’ people, when they come up against the government.
Over the last month they have been protesting down in Ascot – it’s probably the richest part of this country. Except that doesn’t mean that everybody there has lots of money.
In fact, there are quite a few people who don’t have much. And a fair number who are now old and sick and in financial difficulties. They probably were hoping for help from Heatherwood Hospital – except that Heatherwood and Wexham NHS Hospital Trust is in financial difficulties – solution?
Shut down the Accident and Emergency – gone.
Shut down the birth centre, rehabilitation ward, and MIU unit – going.
Build a new surgical unit.
Sell off three quarters of all the land.
Here’s the problem – they don’t need a new surgical unit for the area, however this is ‘Royal Ascot’ – lots of rich people wanting quickie private operations. Lots of surgeons wanting to do their private work in exclusive Ascot.
Local people? They don’t count. So the locals have been marching, raising petitions, the Borough Council had a meeting at the racecourse, the Member of Parliament came and made all the right noises. All of them conservatives and me an old lefty and I actually feel sorry for them.
One of the things that angered them most was that the bankrupt ‘Trust’ spent £500,000-00p (that’s 500 grand) on a ‘public consultation’. Only 495 people responded.
That means each response has cost the ‘Trust’ £1010-10p. That’s over a thousand pounds for each person who answered.
Was the questionnaire written on vellum parchment, scented with Myrrh from the orient? Letters illuminated by rows of short-sighted monks using goldleaf from the mountains of Morne and Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan? A cover of finest Ox hide, beaten and burnished to a sheen of rare luxury? Were the replies rushed back to Slough in swift chariots drawn by the finest white Stallions, the bits clenched between their teeth? The thunder of their elegant hooves hammering out the message; “We listened to you”?
Actually, ‘public consultations’ are not done to consult the public – the decision has already been made. They hold them so that you can’t take them to court for having failed to hold a consultation. As long as they spent the 500 grand and can show that some of the public were consulted, they are in the clear. It would be better to boycott the whole thing to show what a sham it is.
Of course, if they had had any interest in what we thought, what they should have done is have a full public opinion survey or better a referendum in the area of the ‘trust’, with a fair choice of viable alternatives and some democratic input – that’s what a public consultation is.
Trouble is, the public would have told them what they really wanted at Heatherwood;
Re-open the A and E to take the pressure off Wexham.
Refurbish the old wards to use as post-op rehabilitation, which is what they were really for.
Maternity, gynaecology, specialist units.
Expand units for treatment of the elderly – a specialism which we are always told will be a growth area. The money you earn here will pay for the other facilities.
Keep the land for when you need it to build new facilities.
Anyone seen where I left the Myrrh?
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