Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Motion - "Council calls for additional spending, and funding for increased capacity and staffing, for the NHS"

Decision:

Resolved –

 

Council congratulates and thanks all local NHS staff for their dedicated and professional care to the people of Greenwich particularly at this time of unprecedented demand and with such insufficient resources.   Council also thanks our Emergency Team and Social Care colleagues for their tireless work.

 

Council notes that the Chancellor produced £1.6bn for the NHS in the next financial year.  Council further notes that the King’s Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust – the three main independent health bodies – called for a minimum additional £4bn for NHS England in 2018/19 and £20bn by 2022.

 

Council is deeply concerned about the cancellation of routine elective procedures in January and sympathises with Greenwich patients for the pain anxiety and inconvenience this has caused to Greenwich patients. 

 

Council further notes that, as the King’s Fund reports, the number of hospital beds is at an all time low – amongst the lowest per head in the EU and with the sharpest rate of reduction whilst the UK has amongst the highest rate of population growth.  Locally the QEH’s A&E department was designed for fewer than 100 admissions per day.  Yet some days now the admission numbers exceed 500.

 

Inadequate resourcing is causing these crises.

 

Council calls on the Government to commit to additional spending for NHS England adequate to address the problems we now see and residents experience.  We further call on the Government also to fund increased capacity and staffing in all areas of high pressure and growth – including our borough.

 

Minutes:

Councillor David Gardner moved the motion, which he detailed. He commented on the experience of the NHS under Conservative and Labour governments.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Cherry Parker. She noted how as co-chair of the Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel she had seen the impact of austerity on public services. She commented on the NHS funding gap. She highlighted how the Scrutiny Panel heard of the threat to the local hospital trust, in particular how a musculoskeletal contract worth £75million was to be given to the private sector by the CCG with no protection for local hospitals until the Scrutiny Panel demanded a range of safeguards. She commented on the pressures experienced by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She said that decisions were increasingly being driven by a 6-borough plan which had done nothing for Greenwich and had only caused problems. Noting the financial problems faced by the Hospital she suggested a cynic might argue there was a top down conspiracy to push the Queen Elizabeth Hospital into special measures or worse. She stressed there was a big question about local accountability. She observed that the Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care was taking ambitious steps to explore with the trust the potential to redevelop the Queen Elizabeth Hospital site as a health promoting campus and improving the hospital itself, including how the Council might help them to review how they manage their PFI debt. The Council was also working to reduce fragmentation by investing in integrated services. Public Health England had recently praised the Royal Borough of Greenwich in meeting its legal duty to improve the health of its residents; the Council was regarded as a beacon for innovation in a tough financial environment.

 

Councillor Matt Hartley proposed the amendment to the motion, as detailed in the published Tabled Items agenda. He dismissed the notion of conspiracy theories.

 

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Mark Elliott.

 

Councillor David Gardner did not accept the amendment.

 

Councillors John Fahy, Danny Thorpe, Stephen Brain, Denise Hyland, Linda Bird, and Jackie Smith spoke in support of the motion. The work of health practitioners, and of the Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel was recognised. The current state of the NHS was commented upon, and personal experiences related. The NHS was broken and under underfunded. The amount the Government put in to the NHS was not enough. What had to be addressed was that privatisation was having a fundamental impact on the NHS, which cost more and was not accountable. The number of private contrasts was noted, including those given to Virgin Care. The contract given to the Virginia Madison Institute was highlighted, and that it had just failed an inspection of its flagship hospital in Seattle. The experience of the NHS under Labour was detailed, while it was recalled that Virginia Bottomley had closed hospitals in the Borough. It was noted the single biggest issue for Conservative voters was the NHS, and that Conservative MP Sarah Wolston had said the NHS required additional funding and a long-term sustainability plan. Conservative Members were urged to take the matter up with the Government. It was suggested either the Government had to get the resources in place or admit that they want the health services to fail so they can privatise it and bring in the US system.

 

Councillor Spencer Drury commented on the experience of the NHS under the last Labour government, and Labour’s introduction of PFI at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital which he said was a bad PFI. He said Labour had paid for new hospitals on the backs of future payments and that was what had to be paid for now. He said Labour had previously supported private sector providers for bringing down waiting lists but were now opposed to it now. He commented on how the coalition Government had tried to address some of Labour’s PFI debt.

 

Councillor Chris Kirby rebutted the claim about PFI at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital saying it was designed and commissioned in 1995 under Virginia Bottomley. He suggested that Councillor Hartley was, accidently, misquoting the Labour Manifesto of 2015 which in fact referred to additional money for social care as a holistic package.

 

Councillor David Gardner said an additional relevant point to be made about cost was the Brexit triple whammy, which resulted in EU citizens no longer wanting to work in the NHS with the numbers of nurses falling by 90%, and in the British economy threatened by austerity which was then heightened by the uncertainties of the handling of Brexit. He noted that the Government’s response to nurse vacancies was the introduction of tuition fees for nurses. Doctors could not come in from the rest of the world because that would exceed the Government’s cap. He said a change of policy was needed, as well as £20billion funding and a Labour Government.

 

The amendment was put to the vote and with 8 votes in favour and 26 votes against it was not carried.

 

Councillor Matt Hartley said funding for the NHS in England was to be £12 billion higher than in 2010.  He compared the Conservative and Labour Manifestoes of 2015 and said the Conservative one committed to £8 billion for the NHS and the Labour had not. He referred to A&E in Wales where Labour had made NHS funding cuts. He stressed the only time a hospital was ever privatised was by Labour’s Andy Burnham. He said the conspiracy theory about the NHS from the Leader of the Council was an outrageous suggestion and deeply offensive.

 

Councillor David Gardner closed the debate,

 

The motion was put to the vote and with 26 votes for and 8 abstentions it was

 

Resolved –

 

Council congratulates and thanks all local NHS staff for their dedicated and professional care to the people of Greenwich particularly at this time of unprecedented demand and with such insufficient resources.   Council also thanks our Emergency Team and Social Care colleagues for their tireless work.

 

Council notes that the Chancellor produced £1.6bn for the NHS in the next financial year.  Council further notes that the King’s Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust – the three main independent health bodies – called for a minimum additional £4bn for NHS England in 2018/19 and £20bn by 2022.

 

Council is deeply concerned about the cancellation of routine elective procedures in January and sympathises with Greenwich patients for the pain anxiety and inconvenience this has caused to Greenwich patients. 

 

Council further notes that, as the King’s Fund reports, the number of hospital beds is at an all time low – amongst the lowest per head in the EU and with the sharpest rate of reduction whilst the UK has amongst the highest rate of population growth.  Locally the QEH’s A&E department was designed for fewer than 100 admissions per day.  Yet some days now the admission numbers exceed 500.

 

Inadequate resourcing is causing these crises.

 

Council calls on the Government to commit to additional spending for NHS England adequate to address the problems we now see and residents experience.  We further call on the Government also to fund increased capacity and staffing in all areas of high pressure and growth – including our borough.

 

Supporting documents: