Plea to MPs to join march against cuts

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Wigan and Leigh MPs and councillors are being called to join a campaign against “devastating” NHS funding cuts.

Wigan Trades Council has sent letters to political figures across the borough outlining plans to hold a public meeting and a march to highlight the “inadequate” care that could result from a reformed health system.

Concerns have been raised by the campaigners over a document released by Wigan leaders entitled “Further, faster towards 2020 executive summary”, stating that the report “raises more questions than are answered.”

The letter sent to Wigan Council this week, said: “We were horrified to learn that in order to overcome debts in Wigan, a further £87m of cuts will have to made across the borough’s health services by 2020.

“These cuts will devastate the infrastructure upon which so many people in Wigan depend now, and will depend on in the future.”

Wigan Trades Council have used the letter as an opportunity to identify similarities between the leaders’ proposals and a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), which have been widely criticised by unions across the country.

The group calls upon the council to follow the example set by other council’s in the UK and challenge the STPs which have been branded as “full of lies” and “blue sky thinking.”

Speaking exclusively to the Wigan Post, a spokesman for the trades council, said: “We are in danger of being led down the road of health care that President Trump is taking US citizens, with millions being deprived of attention simply because they can’t afford to pay; with hospitals competing for ‘customers’, ambulances competing for casualties and doctors demanding to see insurance certificates.

“Other councils and MPs have challenged STPs and the whole thinking behind the government plans to undermine and ultimately commercialise the NHS, leading local campaigns to highlight the impact of the cuts in the pipeline.

“We see no reason why our local elected representatives cannot do the same.

“Large numbers of people are completely unaware of the seriousness of the situation and the adverse effect on jobs and services we depend on.

“The dangers of sleepwalking into a US-style nightmare are there for everyone to see.”

The group said that the letters to MPs and councillors is an invitation to “set aside any differences” and work in unison to challenge the government’s plans.

Protests are being planned following the news that the borough will need to save £87m in the next three years to avoid being in deficit.

The cuts are being made across five health and social care organisations, but the borough’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the council will need to make the biggest sacrifices.

Wigan’s health chiefs, together with the council, will soon begin implementing an overhaul of services to try and minimise losses, working on borough objectives and schemes Greater Manchester-wide, including bed reductions for those with learning disabilities.

NHS bosses have recently said the the borough has received a £14.8m boost.