South Gloucestershire Council has passed a Liberal Democrat amendment calling upon the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to involve the local community in shaping the future of health services in Thornbury and Frenchay.
Cllr Maggie Tyrell, who proposed the amendment, said: “We believe that it is critical that the NHS listen to representatives of the local community when it comes to new health provision at Thornbury and Frenchay. I’m very pleased that Council supported my amendment, which calls on the CCG to set up stakeholder groups for both locations. Listening to residents, making use of their local knowledge, and understanding their priorities and health needs is vital if the CCG want to make a success of both Thornbury and Frenchay.”
Cllr Shirley Holloway, who chairs the Friends of Thornbury Hospital, said: “It is extremely frustrating that progress towards securing a new Hospital and Health Centre has recently been delayed yet again! The Conservatives have given us warm words and visits by ministers, but no real progress. In many ways it feels like we are back to Square 1. However, these stakeholder groups would be a step in the right direction in ensuring that we get the right health facilities at Thornbury at long last.”
With the festive season getting underway, here is some information you might find useful over the Christmas and New Year period.Read more
South Gloucestershire’s ruling Conservative group have rejected a motion by the opposition Liberal Democrats, calling for an end to planned severe cuts to the local NHS.
Lib Dem Deputy Leader, Cllr Claire Young (Westerleigh), said: “We asked the Council to call on the Government to halt the so-called “Capped Expenditure Process,” which will see our local NHS singled out for extra NHS cuts along with 13 other areas of the country from next year. Instead, the Conservatives introduced a watered-down motion, which stops short of calling for an end to these planned cuts.
“The Conservatives say that the NHS should tighten its belt and live within its means – but the Health Service has reached a point where it can’t tighten its belt much further without vital services being lost, and it’s patients who will suffer as a result.”
Lib Dem Councillor Linda Boon (Chipping Sodbury) described to the Council her recent experience of cutbacks in the NHS. After waiting months for a cataract operation, she was told that she was no longer eligible, because NHS policy had changed – meaning she will now have to wait until she is almost blind in the affected eye before she will be able to have the surgery.
Claire concluded: “We are hearing of more and more cases like Linda’s. It is not fair of the Conservatives to pass the buck to local NHS managers to make these sorts of cuts. The decision not to invest more in the local NHS is, ultimately, a political choice and it’s Conservative MPs who must be held responsible for that. The Lib Dems believe that income tax should be raised by a penny on the pound to ensure that the NHS has the extra funding it so desperately needs.”
South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet meeting on 4th December decided unanimously to move Thornbury Library into Turnberries.
They reached their decision with hardly any debate despite a lengthy consultation exercise which saw the public reject the move by a large majority of more than two to one. Most of the 50 letters opposed the move too, and so did Thornbury Town Council, who set out their concerns at length.
Speaking to the Cabinet, Thornbury’s Lib Dem Councillors, Maggie Tyrrell and Clare Fardell, as well as David Chubb (Conservative) all strongly opposed the move. They pointed out that Turnberries is not seen as part of the Town Centre, and is inconvenient for many people to reach. The move is likely to have a bad impact on the shops, cafes and other nearby businesses.
“Why ask local people for their views and then ignore them?” asked Clare Fardell. “Unfortunately that has lately become a habit of those who control South Glos Council.”
An audible gasp greeted Cllr Heather Goddard’s announcement that “Thornbury is a dying town,” as she claimed that if Turnberries contained the Library, it would attract more people into the town.
Maggie Tyrrell immediately pointed out that the thriving café, pubs, restaurants and other attractions already make Thornbury a very popular destination.
After the meeting Cllr Shirley Holloway (Lib Dem) said, “I can’t believe Heather said what she did. We all know very few other towns provide so much voluntary community activity, from our amazing Thornbury in Bloom and the Christmas Lights to a huge and growing variety of clubs and societies.”
Local councillors will do their best to overturn this decision but the Cabinet decision will not be easy to reverse.
Local health managers have rowed back on proposals to cut the upper age limit for which women are eligible for IVF treatment on the NHS, after protests by local campaigners, including Lib Dem councillors Sue Hope and Claire Young.
Cllr Sue Hope said: “I welcome the fact that the local CCG have listened to the hundreds of people who replied to the consultation and are keeping the age limit for IVF treatment at 40 for women, rather than being reduced to 35, as initially proposed. However, I’m concerned that the CCG still propose that any woman whose partner has a child from a previous relationship will not be eligible for IVF treatment. On top of this, we have been warned that there will be many more cuts announced after the New Year.”
Cllr Claire Young said: “The CCG have listened this time, but under current Tory spending plans, they will still be forced to make millions in cuts to local NHS services in the coming years. Blame for these cuts lies not with the CCG, but with Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt. Together with Bristol and North Somerset, South Gloucestershire is one of only 14 areas in the country targeted for extra cuts under the Conservative Government’s Capped Expenditure Process.
“The Conservatives will say that the local NHS needs ‘to live within its means’ but the reality is that many NHS services are already being stretched close to breaking point. We are calling for greater investment in the NHS so that health managers can concentrate on how to improve services, not how to cut them. I would like to thank everyone who has already signed our petition to protect local NHS funding. If you haven’t already signed, you can do so here: http://www.southgloslibdems.org.uk/ivf.”