I’d like to thank Julie Farrow for organising the meeting of the Westborough Community Association last night at which representatives from Mid & South Essex Success Regime (SRE) spoke to local residents regarding the plans concerning our local NHS services and changes to our hospital’s A&E.

Following their presentation, and after taking questions from the audience, I was able to speak about the role of Save Southend A&E.

The fact that this meeting even took place, in addition to the highly relevant questions asked of the panel by members of the public, shows that our campaign is succeeding in raising public awareness about the Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP) for the our local NHS services and that people realise what the implications and dangers are, particularly for our A&E department (as well as Basildon & Chelmsford’s)

One lady asked why SRE wasn’t advertising what was planned, to which the answer came; there was no budget for it. I guess the next, and more difficult question should be “Why is there no budget for it?” I can’t answer that, but what I do know is that when I first became aware of these plans last year and started asking questions at Southend Council meetings, it was apparent that plenty of people in authority would have been quite happy for them to have been rubber-stamped and implemented with the least of fuss.

I can’t say that anything new came out of the meeting. It was interesting, however, to have a couple of paramedic ambulance crew in the audience who were able to tell the Chief Transformation Officer, Tom Abell, the actual procedure that happened when assessing heart attack patients pre-hospital rather than his official version; they were also able to confirm that this oft-cited case and example of where ambulances will bypass Southend for the benefit of the patient and go directly to Basildon’s Cardiothoracic unit, happens, on average, only about twice a week. No one disagrees that this is the best course of action for a very small number of patients, but you can not base your entire case for sending all emergency ambulances to Basildon on this fact and one or two similar instances.

The SRE still insist that these plans are clinically led, whereas we believe they are not. We are told that they are not clinically led by Consultants at the hospital. We believe that these plans will unnecessarily cost the lives of numerous, ill people, from across the whole of Mid & South Essex. I saw no evidence last night that gave me cause to change my mind on any of this.

Mike Fieldhouse

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