More unhealthy lies

LAST MONDAY evening a petition containing over 10,000 signatures was handed to Dundee’s NHS trust board by a delegation of Communist Party activists from the Dundee branch. The event marked the culmination of work by the Party in the city against the closure of Dundee Royal Infirmary.

The trust’s reaction was predictable. Accepting the petition, chief executive Tim Brett, attempted to “settle fears” which Mary Ward, CPGB branch secretary, and local people had over the proposals. He maintained that National Health services in the area were safe in the trust’s hands and that the proposed move and ‘centralisation’ of services in the city’s Ninewells hospital would merely be a “challenge for management”.

According to Brett, the exercise had little to do with cost cutting measures, but was predominately based on medical needs and re-organisation, which would “guarantee” a better service for the area.

At a public meeting on the same evening the trust board went out of its way to convince its audience that the changes were in everyone’s interest. Two consultants from DRI, who supported the proposals, were used - not that successfully, it must be said - to cajole everyone.

As Mary pointed out at the meeting, “Just because there are two senior staff speaking in favour of the proposals, it doesn’t mean to say that they are correct”. It was no big surprise that Albert Jacobson, a retired consultant from DRI, who had previously spoken of the “organisational chaos” that would be caused by the proposals, was not mentioned from the platform.

Comrades from the CPGB were able to expose the trust as slick, professional liars, as Mary Ward forced them to confirm their previously undisclosed plans to close not only DRI, but also Kings Cross Hospital and Dundee Limbs Fitting Centre - news which rocked the community for days. The trust insisted that all decisions had been arrived at democratically after consultation with the local community. This was overwhelmingly rejected by the meeting, which pointed out the past and present failures of the trust to adequately publicise their so-called consultation exercises.

There is clearly much resentment over the proposals, but workers must take matters into our own hands and demand that local medical services are organised for local needs, not on the perceived needs of a small number of bureaucrats.

The Dundee branch of the CPGB has forced the pace of the campaign to date and will now be setting up a NHS support group.

Gareth Phillips