Many hospitals are losing funding from several streams, both central and local government, as well as from Primary Care Trusts.
For example, Homerton Hospital in Hackney, north east London, faces cuts of at least £15m. First in line are midwifery and language advocacy services.
The cuts to midwifery are all the more senseless given an annual growth of 19% of births at the hospital. According to the hospital’s Unison branch, “Particularly shocking is the dissolving of the Shoreditch Group Practice which was set up in an area known to have high deprivation and infant mortality rates, along with high rates of difficulties experienced by women during pregnancy or after birth.”
Language advocates help non-English speakers receiving treatment at the hospital. Turkish language advocates (the most-used service) are being reduced from four to three, and the Kurdish service is being abolished entirely. This will reduce the amount of face-to-face time patients have with health-workers; instead they will have to rely on a standardised service provided by a telephone interpreter.
Unions at the hospital held a demonstration at the hospital on 5 February, and union activists from Homerton attended the large Hackney anti-cuts demonstration on 19 February. The Unison branch has made clear that it opposes all cuts and is discussing further action.
Homerton is only one example. NHS South West Essex has summarily cancelled all hip operations. NHS Warwickshire will no longer be offering “low priority treatments” (which it claims include injections for chronic back pain). Several Trusts, including West Kent, Bury, Medway, and Warrington, are suspending, deferring or cancelling IVF treatments.
A number of Trusts are also suspending or cancelling treatments such as tonsillectomies.