Letter sent to Bucks Free Press last week on the A&E
Jean Taylor asked last week if the fight to get our A&E back to Wycombe hospital had been abandoned and asked if someone on the council or our local MP could take up this cause.
Wycombe Labour campaigned against the closure of the A&E (technically an Emergency Medical Centre) in 2012. So too did the Lib Dems and some Tory Councillors (credit where credit is due), an independent campaign group and the Bucks Free Press.
Our local Tory MP, Steve Baker, sat on the fence while decisions were taken and then, after the NHS decided to close the A&E at Wycombe, took a delegation to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley. Mr Lansley said he would send an official to Wycombe to see what was happening and report back. Wycombe Labour was not invited to join the delegation and never saw the official. Apparently she came, saw and disappeared.
Wycombe Labour has been campaigning ever since to get our A&E back. It was our top priority in our campaign for the general and local elections. The Lib Dems have been campaigning too (credit where credit is due) and so has an independent campaign group.
Steve Baker said in his campaign letter " Traditional A&E departments gave peace of mind, but there can be no return to the days of bed rests for heart attacks. Full -scale, modern hospitals require a minimum population of 500,000 to operate safely. With only 170,000 in the Wycombe District, the NHS must serve the whole county. It would not be credible to propose moving the facilities at Stoke Mandeville to Wycombe." (I realise this makes no sense but it is what he said.)
Mr Baker had in the meantime used taxpayers' money to commission plans from a company called Durrow Ltd to contract out all of Wycombe hospital to the private sector. Those plans may still be on his website.
All the campaigners pointed out in 2012 how difficult it would be for patients to get to Stoke Mandeville from Wycombe, particularly in an emergency. We were ignored. Travel is difficult and will be compounded by HS2 traffic as reported last week.
Steve Baker said that everything will be done to ensure ambulances can proceed unimpeded. It would be helpful to know exactly what that "everything" includes.
Wycombe Labour will continue to campaign for the return of the A&E. However, it is difficult when Bucks Hospital NHS Trust is nearly in the red, social services are starved of resources and over budget and the NHS is fighting a day-to-day battle to keep things going. It is doubly difficult when our local Tory MP does not support the return of the A&E and has plans to privatise Wycombe hospital.
Health spokesperson, Wycombe Labour