Of all the manifesto promises made by the Conservatives during the election campaign, the one which seemed to go under the radar is the pledge to make the NHS a 7 day a week service. Following a speech made by the Prime Minister this week on the subject, bizarrely, the Royal College of Nursing threatened strike action.
Whilst looking at some data over the past few days, there was the startling stat that you are 16 times more likely to die in Hospital on a Sunday.
Under the current arrangement, you need to fall ill between 9-5 on a Monday to Friday. I feel desperately sorry for those who need to see a doctor or have toothache out of hours or at the weekend as getting access to any of these is nigh on impossible.
In the east of the town, to get access to a GP out of hours or at weekends the only chance of seeing one is the St Luke's walk in centre. There was an article in yesterday's Echo that the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group are proposing to close the St Luke's walk in centre and 'relocate' it to A&E at Southend Hospital. This was confirmed in an email that I received today.
You really have to wonder at the interlect of those making this decision. The whole point of devolving NHS services into local communities is to take the strain of A&E departments. The Shoebury Residents Association have been campaigning for a local Shoebury Health Centre, a cause that I fully support, for precisely this reason.
Residents are acutely aware of the parking problems at Southend Hospital currently. Sure relocating the St Luke's walk in centre here is only going to exasperate the problem. Also, those who rely on buses to get to Southend Hospital from Shoebury are aware of the difficulties.
I have been assured that this item will be debated at a scrutiny meeting in the future. A 7 days a week NHS that delivers local NHS services can not come soon enough. In the meantime, I will doing all I can to fight the proposals to close the St Luke's walk in centre as not only those in St Lukes, but also residents in Shoeburyness and the east of the town rely upon it.