Be the change

In July this year it was announced that there would a series of cuts to Bedford Hospital’s River Bank Ward that will affect anyone with a child under 19. The public will now have to use the hospitals at either Luton or Milton Keynes.

As of August 1st 2013 there was to be no:

– Planned overnight inpatient care (on Riverbank Ward) for children having planned (elective) surgery, or planned medical procedures or care. Children will be cared for by their Bedford consultant at Milton Keynes Hospital (or another neighbouring hospital) 

– Emergency overnight inpatient care (on Riverbank Ward) as there will be no emergency admissions from 31 July

 – Children’s Accident and Emergency (children brought to hospital by ambulance will go straight to the next nearest hospital. Children (those aged up to 19) should not be brought to A&E as walk-in patients from 1 August.

– Children’s Assessment Unit, for children requiring short-stay observation following attendance at A&E (as there will be no emergency admissions from 31 July)

The Trust explained that they would continue to provide the following services:

Children’s outpatients services (all children’s outpatients clinics will continue to run as normal)

-Nurse-led ambulatory care for children with chronic or long-term conditions whose care can be managed by specialist paediatric nurses

-Day Unit (on Riverbank Ward) with day case care following planned surgery, or for planned medical procedures or care

 -Maternity services and neonatal services are unaffected and continue to run as normal

-All other services, including adult A&E remain as normal.

These announcements lead to a very vocal demonstration being launched at short notice as, around 500 people took to the street in protestwith some 5000 people in two days signing a petition against the closure and their message is clear; that these proposals are outrageous and as always the case, they impact the poorest the hardest and with children, they target the most at risk and most vulnerable group. As a child who spent many a Sunday morning or evening at the local hospital recovering from a variety of sporting related injuries, I know first hand the impact some of these proposals will have on families. There are rumours or mumblings of concessions or plans to resolve the discontent of the Save Riverbank Ward Facebook group, but half measure should not and will not be tolerated.

riverbank sos

There are a succession of protests and art performances being planned to oppose these disgusting closures, one of a long line of attacks on our NHS service across the country to date. A march is being held on August 24th, starting at 12:30pm at Horne lane in Bedford and on the following week, August 31st starting at around 10:00am there will be a cavalcade procession, making their way from Bedford Hospital to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, to highlight the issue of the journey, with a sick child (not a real one!) being wheeled on a bed and loaded on to a vehicle and taken slowly down the road to their final destination. This has been championed by the Luton’s People Assembly, buoyed by the reversal of the decision to close Lewisham A&E, who realise not only the risk this attack on the hospital in Bedford poses for the future of the L&D, but for the very real hardship some families will face with the logistics of having to transport children to Luton or Milton Keynes. All are cordially invited to attend and make both events something to be proud to be part of. This may not be something that directly affects you today but in time it can and perhaps will. Lewisham has shown us that if we take a collective stand, in enough numbers, we can be the change.

There is no justice, there is just us
There is no justice, there is just us

August 24th also marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech ‘I have a dream’ in Washington, but perhaps his finest speech was his last, now affectionately referred to as ‘At the mountain top’. In this speech he explained how the biggest question he faced was not what would happen to him if he stood up for the sanitation workers, but what would happen to them if he did not stand up for them. This is as relevant today with all the attacks being faced by the public from this government, whatever the issue, be it bedroom tax, pension attacks, NHS closures and privatisation and attacks on the disabled, these are all as a result of ideological austerity being driven by corruption in our parliament and bad banking practices. They are right when they say we are in this together, but we can only turn back the tide by taking a collective stand across all issues and not just laying back on our laurels once our own individual issues are resolved.

Boris Johnson and the London 500; what price a life Boris?

Today Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, proved that democracy is hypocrisy. Malc-X-Democracy

The slogan made famous by Malcolm X could not be more fitting as Boris Johnson has now TWICE over turned the London Fire Assemblies democratic rejection of his proposed cuts to London Fire Brigade by doing so again today. The cuts endorsed by Boris would see the loss of ten fire stations and 552 firefighter jobs, leaving both the public and the remaining firefighters at great risk. Strange then how in 2010 he said that he would keep firefighters and the fire engines!

The question Boris Johnson should be answering is what price a life?

At the Mayors Questions in June this year, Boris Johnson made light of the concerns raised in the gallery by the public and firefighters of his pursuit of the cuts. He saw fit to tell them to leave and laugh and joke at the questions surrounding the disproportionate affect his cuts agenda will have on the poor and the disabled and is an issue that has been covered recently by disability campaigner Adam Lotun. 

Firefighters on fire engines do crucial education and prevention work for the public and these cut backs will hit the most vulnerable amongst us the hardest.

The Knight Review cited the reduction in dwelling fires as the reason for cut backs on brigades resources but it failed to comment on the correlation between the work that is done by firefighters day and night to ensure that people remain safe. Where this work fails, having enough people and resources to deal with an incident early on the initial attack are vital to save and preserve life and to protect property.

Both of which do not seem to have been considered by the megalomaniac Boris Johnson, instead he would rather concentrate on revealing blue cocks in Trafalgar Square.

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The decision taken today will mean 500 plus firefighters effectively being binned over one mans vision and like Lewisham A&E the local communities must be encouraged to help rally behind the firefighters in their struggle against the ego of Johnson and his cohorts to save vital services to their communities.

The firefighters of London and their communities did not cause this recession, bad banking practices and rogue politicians have. It is high time we followed the wealth, made a stand and too back what is ours.