LCAC campaigns against cuts and closures, job losses and benefit cuts.

The consultation over the future of Lowestoft Hospital was so loaded as to make a vote against its closure virtually impossible. Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG (aka HealthEast) “preferred option” promised two new health centres and unlimited services with no mention of cost. The hospital would close and instead beds would be bought in private nursing homes. The option of keeping the hospital involved a repair bill of some £10m with no mention of new services. Yet significant numbers rejected HealthEast’s plan and LCAC’s straw poll saw an almost unanimous vote to keep the hospital. Curiously new Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, agrees with LCAC. He wants local, smaller hospitals to treat patients closer to home. We await Andy Evans’ (HealthEast’s Chief Exec.) resignation. Our complaint over his “consultation” is being investigated by the Ombudsman.

The local government ombudsman is not so helpful. Our complaint that Waveney District Council deliberately broke planning laws and misled councillors who debated the plan to ship 500 council jobs from own centre to an enterprise zone a mile out of town is just too much. If one or two could suffer from the Riverside Road decision there would be a case. But damage to the whole town? Its a problem. We have appealed. If you have a business which might be affected – let us know.

The consultation to slash local mental health services was voted “a sham” by the meeting in Lowestoft and the one in Beccles called for resignations. Two wards and the day centre at Carlton Court Hospital had been closed before the “consultation” started. These dreadful plans are obviously driven by £40m funding cuts and everybody knows it.

The James Paget Hospital isn’t immune. We have learnt that because targets for elective surgery are being missed patients are offered treatment in private hospitals. Most have refused. Underfunding of NHS hospitals means that they are being set impossible targets. They are set up to fail and further privatisation is the intention and the outcome. Suffolk’s care homes are now in the tender hands of CareUK, part of the private equity firm Bridge- point. LCAC warned against the sell off by Suffolk County Council and staff have already suffered cuts. In Doncaster CareUK is attempting to cut nurses and care workers pay by 35% and has sparked continuing strike action. Labour Leader and Doncaster MP Ed Miliband has refused to support the Doncaster strikers. Waveney TUC and LCAC raised £63 for the striking workers at their recent May Day festival.

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