Friday, 21 September 2007
Nulabour's hospital closure consultation
Yesterday evening I had an insight into the workings of Nulabours "consultation" process on the planned closure of NHS District General Hospitals and replacement with dumbed down polyclinics.
A few weeks ago invitations to attend a public consultation were sent to consultants at our Trust. We were only given one day to reply for the meeting in the near future even though we have to give 6 weeks notice of leave because of "choose and book".
Obviously this meant that most of us could not attend but one consultant did take up the invitation.
The location of the meeting was kept secret until three days before the event and when this consultant was eventually told the location and turned up in Birmingham for the "Citizens Jury" it turned out that medical staff were outnumbered 2:1 by laypeople specifically chosen by an agency to attend the event. The media were present and had obviously been invited to publicise the event.
The delegates were split up into groups and each allocated an electronic voting device. A "minder" was allocated to each group.
Then the stars of the show arrived: Gordon Brown, Alan Johnson and Ara Darzi.
There followed a rapid succession of questions from the podium on which the delegates were asked to vote. The minder was available to suggest the best answer if there was any doubt.
Strangely, almost all the votes were 2:1 in favour of Nulabour's policy. Even the question: "Would you prefer gynaecological surgery to be carried out in your GP practice even if it meant the closure of your DGH facility?" was answered with 2:1 in favour.
Following the "consultation" the medical delegates were told to leave but the other 2/3 of the audience were kept back and each given an envelope. My colleague was intrigued by this and managed to catch one of the "chosen ones" and ask about the contents. Each envelope contained £75 in cash!
So now the consultation is over and the results indicate there is overwhelming public and doctor support for closing down the DGHs. I can only say that the way the voting was done makes the "Blue Peter" voting fraud seem like, well, "Blue Peter".
According to the Downing Street website there are nine more of these "consultations" due around the county. Thats an awful lot of people to bribe with taxpayers money, but once they're done the business of closing the DGHs can start in earnest.