Labour’s new Shadow Health Secretary, Jon Ashworth MP, visited Chester on Thursday (8th December) to have a meeting with Chester MP, Chris Matheson, and local activists about their campaign to highlight the potential dangers of the STP process and renewed fears of a future closure of the Countess of Chester Hospital.
The campaign follows leaked emails that were later backed up by the annual report of Wirral Hospitals Trust, confirming that talks are proceeding to merge the Countess with Arrow Park and Clatterbridge and move to a new hospital near Ellesmere Port.
Chris said: “I invited Jon here today to demonstrate to people in Chester how seriously Labour are taking the underhand way in which the government is seeking to reshape our local health services through more cuts and ultimately the privatisation of the NHS.”
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Cheshire and Merseyside was refused at Cheshire West and Chester’s Health and Wellbeing Board in November when Labour councillors tabled a motion asking for better information and more engagement with patients, partners and residents.
Jon said: “The NHS is underfunded, understaffed and overstretched. My worry is that decisions are being made about the provision of services based on funding rather than need. These decisions are being made behind closed doors. It has to be very transparent and the public need to be part of the discussions.”
Attending the meeting in the café at the hospital was Eve Davies, a local NHS campaigner from Blacon who is supporting the Countess Counts campaign. Eve said: “This is a fight to save the NHS. STPs are a vehicle for more cuts and more privatisation. Everyone needs to stand up and be counted on this issue, because the Countess really does count.”
To sign the petition online, please visit thecountesscounts.org.