Planet Cameron is, by all accounts, a rather curious place…
David Cameron is standing by claims 29 district hospitals are facing cuts to emergency and maternity services.
The Tory leader admitted one hospital, in north-west England, had been wrongly named by him as being under threat.
But he insisted all the others were facing potential cuts. The government says reviews are being carried out.
So you make a very basic error by incorrectly naming a hospital as facing cuts in services when it doesn’t and then stand by your claim? And to make matters even worse, the hospital in question is in the constituency of one of you own MPs…
It comes as Tory MP Henry Bellingham apologised to staff at his local hospital in King’s Lynn, which he said had been wrongly included on the list.
Mr Bellingham said the Queen Elizabeth hospital should have been consulted about the campaign.
“Obviously a mistake has been made and as a local MP I wasn’t consulted on this and I apologise unreservedly to the staff of the hospital,” the Norfolk North West MP told the BBC.
I do think there’s a lesson for all opposition parties, all parties actually and the government, if they are issuing a statement that affects an organisation, be it a hospital, the police, some school, they should always consult the chief executive or the headmaster or whoever it is.”
Seems fairly conclusive, although why it should be Bellingham making the apology and not Cameron is not exactly clear, especially as Bellingham states clearly that he wasn’t consulted about the hospital’s inclusion in Cameron’s propaganda - and while the underling apologises, Cameron is busy making excuses for his cock-up and trying to cover his arse…
However, Mr Cameron said that Queen Elizabeth hospital was under threat as it delivered under 3,000 live births per year - the level at which the strategic health authority decided a unit is not viable.
This is North West Norfolk we’re talking about here, a constituency that appears to amount to matter of Kings Lynn, the Queen’s Sandringham estate and a whole bunch of countryside - not a huge amount of scope for siting major hospital services, one might think, let alone for taking them away. The number of live births at the hospital may well be a factor in deliberations over the future development of maternity services in the area, but it will be one factor amongst many that come into play not least amongst which will be the available capacity at possible alternative sites and, especially in such an area, the matter of transport - to seek to reduce such decisions to a crude numbers game in which 3,000 live births is put forward as a hard and fast cut-off point for the viability of the service seems to say rather more about Tory preoccupations and propaganda than about any review process that may be undertaken in future.
Another hospital on the Tory list does not have a maternity or accident and emergency facility.
Altrincham General Hospital in Trafford does have a minor injuries unit. Mr Cameron said the party had meant to name nearby Trafford General Hospital instead.
Apart from that error, Mr Cameron said: “We stand by what we have in our document.”
That just takes Cameron’s arguments into the realms of high farce.
What we’re dealing with here is the matter of the location of A&E and maternity services in an urban area, specifically part of Greater Manchester and, like many such urban areas, if one compares how the various hospitals relate to each other in terms of geography and administrative organisation then quirks very quickly begin to emerge - for example Altrincham General may be part of the same NHS Trust as Trafford General, but if you live it that area and need to access A&E then you’re better off heading over to Wythenshawe Hospital, which may belong to a different NHS trust but is about half the distance from Altrincham of Trafford General. Its precisely these kinds of anamolous situation that make the question of where best to site critical services a considerably more complex matter that just plonking them on the site of existing hospitals and its impossible to adequate evaluate what the implications such decisions might be without being clear as to precisely what the alternatives on offer are - unless you’re politician whose more interested in vote-grabbing headlines than providing the best possible services to the public based on actual evidence.
To compound Tory embarrassment even further, having ‘fessed up to one cock-up and then claimed that everything else he’s said is gospel, it now seems that other hospitals listed by Cameron are fair queueing up to debunk his claims:
Other NHS trusts have contradicted the Conservative claims.
Chief executive of the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Tom Taylor, said there is no threat to maternity services at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.
A spokeswoman for North Bristol NHS Trust - which covers Frenchay and Southmead hospitals - said Conservative claims that A&E services at Frenchay were under threat are “absolute rubbish”.
She told the BBC. “It simply isn’t true and it’s very annoying.”
However, the A&E unit at Frenchay will be closed and a new one built at Southmead Hospital five miles away, where there is only a minor injury unit at the moment.
So what’s happening here is simply that the A&E unit is moving from one site in the trust to another, one that seems, so far as one can see, to be rather more central placed in terms of the area the trust serves, which seems an eminently sensible course of action.
A spokeswoman for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, which is responsible for Horton hospital in Banbury, said there is no threat to its A&E unit and extra consultants were being employed there.
And another claim bites the dust.
The Beeb goes to to cite Cameron as promising a “bare knuckle fight” with Prime Minister Gordon Brown over district hospitals - personally I’d prefer some sign that Cameron can actually present an argument based on facts rather than conjectures and misinformation.
As Cameron used to work in PR at one point then its seems only fair to close this piece with a few reflections on the nature of marketing from the late great Bill Hicks, in the vain hope that Cameron (and other politicians) might just take note and do us all the favour that Hicks recommends…
By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising…kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I’m doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan’s little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: ‘There’s gonna be a joke comin’ up.’ There’s no fuckin’ joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself…borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something…rid the world of your evil fuckin’ presence.