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Friday, 01 August 2014

Your chance to challenge trust

THERE are just seven days remaining before the public will have a rare chance to tell local health bosses face-to-face why we want to keep a full consultant-led maternity unit and other key services at Furness General Hospital.

EM John Woodcock
Barrow and Furness Labour MP John Woodcock

The public meeting at the Forum in Barrow at 6pm next Thursday, arranged by the Thousand Voices team, will give worried families the chance to speak up. It is vital we do – en masse.

Concerns about the long-term future of the maternity unit are high on the agenda in many Furness households, but other key health services will also shortly be in the spotlight.

There is an ongoing fight to keep services for vascular patients in the county, and now the local health trust is to carry out a review of services across Morecambe Bay.

There are no easy answers given the cuts being demanded as the government fails to live up to promises on maintaining National Health Service investment. But I am clear on one thing: you pay for your NHS through your taxes and your voice should be heard.

We just cannot accept vital services like maternity and accident and emergency being shipped off to Lancaster. Even in good conditions, condemning emergency patients to an hour-long ambulance ride would surely be a massive health risk. And then consider the potential for severe weather or an accident to hinder the A590 or M6 – both possibilities that have unfortunately come to pass in recent weeks.

So many people have been getting involved in our community’s campaign against this threat, from parents on the school run to driving instructors.

But there is much more to do. So if you haven’t yet done your Thousand Voices clip, get someone to record what you are saying on a camera phone or web cam and email it to: saveFGHmaternity@gmail.com.

LAST week, the credit ratings agency Moody’s downgraded the UK’s rating, meaning it was no longer in the top tier of countries in terms of being an investment risk – the so-called AAA rating.

At the general election, retaining the AAA rating was at the heart of George Osborne’s economic message. Indeed, it was one of the economic benchmarks the Tories asked to be measured against in their manifesto.

The chancellor insisted that his medicine of rapid and deep cuts, including to investment, was vital to keep the AAA rating. Instead, with his policies killing off growth, increasing the deficit, and causing real financial pain to families across Britain, the government has managed to both lose the top rating and cause serious and lasting economic damage.

Given the disastrous failure of his flagship policies, Mr Osborne needs to use the Budget next month to shift course, targeting investment that will help jobs and growth and prioritising families who are feeling the squeeze instead of more tax cuts for millionaires.

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