Readers’ letters - January 13

End ofthe NHS

DR SIMON Dean (‘Working to improve healthcare’, County Times, January 6) is suitably gung-ho at the prospect of leading the Horsham Commissioning Consortium.

He will need to be. His expressed wish to ‘fashion the NHS into an efficient, responsive public service’ faces difficulties unmentioned in his article.

The NHS regulator Monitor’s website lists the first of its core functions being to ‘promote competition... through enforcing competition law... to prevent anti-competitive behaviour’.

If the NHS is the preferred provider this can be challenged in the courts or referred to the Competition Commission. NHS contracts will be subject to EU competition law.

It will not be possible to commission healthcare without seeking tenders from both the NHS and private providers. Very large commercial healthcare organisations will not neglect that legal right. Nor will they neglect to quote on a loss leader basis to drive out competition from NHS providers.

The result will be a settling down to a market dominated by a handful of very large private providers, as we have seen with banking, supermarkets and utilities (to our cost).

Any economies of scale, any improved efficiency, will produce better returns for shareholders rather than benefits to the customer (sorry - patient).

The NHS will go the same way as the corner shop. And the consortium will be trying to achieve improvements while at the same time coping with financial austerity and the chaos of managing the transition to the new system.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston (GP) has drawn attention to the danger.

The chairman of the BMA’s GP committee has expressed concern. Polls of GPs do not show strong support for the changes. The deputy chief executive of the English NHS has said that 70 per cent of similar reforms have failed.

In Horsham we risk being blinded by our dissatisfaction with East Surrey Hospital and a desire for a hospital of our very own (carefully whipped up by our MP) into accepting a system which far from ‘fashioning the NHS into an efficient, responsive public service’ may well see the end of it.

Dr Dean is ‘focused’, ‘optimistic’, ‘transparent’ and feels the need to ‘work hard’. Clearly he has mastered management-speak.

Hopefully he also has the hardnosed negotiation and bargaining skills to see him – and us – through the next few years. There will be no going back.

GEOFF LUNN

Richmond Road, Horsham

THIS letter is in response to the article in your newspaper on January 6 from Dr Simon Dean - ‘Working to improve healthcare’.

Dr Dean is lead of the Horsham Commissioning Consortium responsible for implementing changes to the NHS across the north-east area of West Sussex.

It is refreshing that the people of Horsham will be regularly updated through articles in the West Sussex County Times and I believe the new consortium will be able to implement these changes effectively.

There are many good health services in Horsham as well as some services that could be improved; there are also a few specific areas of health where no services have been provided in the past, but which I hope will be considered within the changes to come.

Bearing this in mind it would be good if the consortium, at the appropriate time, provide a mechanism whereby views of the people of Horsham can be presented and taken into account.

NICK ZAMBUNI

Parsonage Road, Horsham

Attack on low paid

OUR Con-Dem Government says it’s committed to fairness; it says that in tackling the deficit, we’re all in this together; it tells us they will fix the economy.

But their decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board tells you all you need to know that these statements are simply not true.

Why the Agricultural Wages Board? In fact, what is the AWB? It is a small body which costs the Government no money, that sets fair wages and terms and conditions for in the region of 140,000 agricultural workers within England, including many hundreds working within the rural economies of Horsham and Arundel and South Downs constituencies.

This is an unjustifiable attack on some of the lowest paid workers who work tirelessly come rain come sunshine to bring food to our tables and plants to our gardens.

Successive post-war governments of all political shades have worked through the AWB to set minimum pay levels and terms and conditions - even Margaret Thatcher left the AWB in place!

At the heart of Britain’s biggest manufacturing industry – the food production sector – farming needs more skilled workers.

Instead, the Government is encouraging employers to join a race to the bottom on pay that will see skilled workers turn their back on this industry.

Here in Horsham we are proud of being a Fairtrade town, committed to providing decent incomes for farmers overseas, and I would appeal to the many local Fairtrade supporters to apply the same set of values to protect those working within UK agriculture.

How can our Horsham MP Francis Maude look for photo opportunities by attending local Fairtrade events and then vote to end similar protection for those much closer to home?

And before someone shouts that the country can’t afford to provide wage protection, let me reassure you, we are not talking about paying farm workers a king’s ransom.

I guess you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of farm workers within West Sussex who earn, in a year, the amount of money MPs were able to claim in expenses just on their second homes in the last parliament.

On February 9 a rally and lobby is planned in support of the AWB and UK farming, where I hope to discuss my concerns with our MP.

In the meantime I would encourage all fair (trade) minded individuals to write to their local MP, voicing support for the retention of the AWB, UK farming and growing.

It comes to something when you need to campaign for fair trade in your own backyard - enough said about fairness and our Con-Dem Government I think.

DAVID HIDE

Chair, Horsham Labour Party

Clarence Road, Horsham

Getting it right

IN VIEW of the widely publicised problems with waste collection in other areas of the country, I thought readers may be interested in the following letter which was sent to Horsham District Council and which the council was encouraged to forward to the County Times.

In bringing this letter to a wider audience, the council would also like to highlight the very helpful contribution made by the County Times.

The newspaper played a very useful role in publicising the AcornPlus scheme at the early stages, a scheme which has raised recycling in the Horsham district to around 57 per cent.

The letter, dated January 5, is as follows.

Dear Horsham District Council,

While watching the news in recent days we note the problems over the country where rubbish has not been collected for up to a month and send up a little prayer that we live in Horsham!

Our rubbish is always collected when it is supposed to be and apart from the odd day later due to the holiday period our rubbish has NOT built up.

A huge ‘thank you’ to the dedication of the teams who have turned out to keep our lovely residential streets clear. It makes us realise what a good place Horsham is to live in.

We do tend to take for granted such things as rubbish collection and we DO get the household waste collected weekly so we are indeed fortunate.

Some people do not fully understand when or where bins should be placed but we had it clarified by yourselves and keep a record of when rubbish should be put out and return to empty bins – well done!

So, a Happy New Year to the refuse department and the council for getting it right!

If you feel a copy of this letter should be placed in the West Sussex County Times as a show of appreciation, please feel free.

We do think you deserve some positive feedback in these days of negativity. We are PROUD to live in a town which takes such things seriously.

ROGER ARTHUR

(Con, Chanctonbury) Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Operational Services, Horsham District Council

North Street, Horsham

PRAISE be to our local refuse collection unit! While others around Britain have suffered under tons of uncollected festive rubbish, our trash troopers made it through very difficult conditions over the Christmas period to empty our bins on time as usual.

It is all too easy to criticise when things go wrong, so how about a huge round of applause for once, for a brilliant job done!

LIN CHARMAN

Ropeland Way, Horsham

I WOULD like to publicly express my thanks to the community link team for their initiatives in telephoning their clients during the heavy snow period to enquire whether they had sufficient heating and food in their house.

Well done to everyone on the team, your service is invaluable.

NORMA KNOTT

Heron Way, Horsham

I HAVE the same sense of gratitude as Mary Phillips (County Times, December 30).

During the last few weeks of snow and generally foul weather, our neighbours have been extremely attentive to our wellbeing.

They ring us up, ring the door bell, to check on our health, do we need shopping – one neighbour has cleared our drive of snow on at least two occasions.

Several of the Samaritans joined forces to clear the road of snow - a major task.

Fortunately, we have not needed assistance – as yet! - but we are extremely grateful for the thoughts of our neighbours. Well done, Wealdon Close!

MICHAEL A. SEX

Wealdon Close, Southwater

Hospice support

WE WOULD like to sincerely thank your readers for their generosity in support of CHASE hospice care for children.

We held a bucket collection on Thursday December 9 in Horsham town centre, which was carried out by 15 volunteers who gave their time to collect on behalf of CHASE.

An amazing £1,179.40 was raised, which will help look after a local family for a month.

CHASE provides nursing, practical and emotional support to families with life-limited children and teenagers, across Sussex, Surrey and South West London. Our service is provided 24 hours a day 365 days of the year at no cost to the families.

CHASE needs to raise £11,000 a day to maintain its crucial service, and by raising funds for CHASE in the local community, you are making a real difference to families with life-limited children.

To find out more about the support CHASE provides, visit www.chasecare.org.uk.

KATY JONES

Community fundraiser, South, CHASE

Christopher’s,

Guildford