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Friends I have made through this website have persuaded me that I should
attend council committee meetings and this evening I did exactly that and
attended the Health Scrutiny Committee meeting. Ive not
followed the shenanigans at Sidcup hospital as closely as I might have done but
in essence the council is fighting a rear-guard action that it cannot possibly
win against the closure of Queen Marys Hospitals Accident & Emergency
Department (A&E) and its maternity unit leaving Bexley the only London borough
without either. I listened to the health authoritys chief executive (Dr. Streather)
put his case to the council and I came to the conclusion that through
his mismanagement Queen Marys has failed to recruit enough staff and run up
losses of more than £40m a year and Streather now believes that the only way out
of trouble is to close bits of it down. To achieve this in the face of council
objections and a government moratorium on the closure he has ignored all public
comment by manipulating the cut off date for its submission and exploited legal
loop-holes to get around all official protest and
a promise by the local MP, James Brokenshire.
The councils health committee chaired by councillor Ross Downing (Conservative, Cray Meadows) put up a show of protesting when they did not in law have a leg to stand on and with the notable exception of councillor Sharon Massey (Conservative, Danson Park) no one put a question to Streather worth asking and certainly didnt get an answer worth listening to. The A&E closure will happen in November and the maternity unit a month later and Bexley council is powerless to stop it.
I couldnt help noticing the irony of it all. Here we have a public body that ignored the results of consultation and played fast and loose with the law to win its way over the wishes of a council who may be indignant and annoyed by it all or might just be pretending to be. Either way it is an object lesson in hypocrisy by Bexley council who ignore local residents and ride rough-shod over them through a mixture of incompetence, profligacy, mismanagement and lawlessness at every opportunity. If it wasnt so serious it would be hilarious. The committee chairman waffled on and off for nearly two hours, rudely cut off questions from a member of the public who had been allowed to speak and provoked whispers of sanctimonious cow from the listening public; ungallant but a fair enough description. In two weeks time I shall attend a similar meeting on the proposed council cuts. Based on councillor Downings performance tonight chairing an aimless mess of a meeting that achieved nothing whatever I think I know where my axe would fall.