Tory MPs holding marginal seats face defeat at the next general election because of the NHS crises in or near their constituencies, says new research by Unite, the country’s largest union.
As health secretary Jeremy Hunt addresses the Tory conference today (Tuesday 1 October), the research, NHS critical in Tory marginals predicts that the fate of 11 Tory MPs at the 2015 election could be strongly influenced by the rising tide of public concern about the state of the NHS in their areas.
Unite cited the fact that at least 55,000 people marched through Manchester on the Save our NHS rally at the start of the Conservative party conference on Sunday as firm evidence of mounting public concern about the plight of the NHS.
Not one Tory MP voted against the pro-privatisation Health and Social Care bill and now, Unite says, the chickens are coming home to roost for the likes of George Eustice, David Cameron’s ex-spin doctor, who has a wafer-thin majority of 66 in Cambourne and Redruth.
Public health minister Anna Soubry, who was on the committee that scrutinised the bill, is also clinging onto her Nottinghamshire seat of Broxtowe by 389 votes.
The 11 tight marginal seats highlighted by Unite commissioned research from the NHS Support Federation are: Amber Valley, Brighton Kempton, Broxtowe, Cambourne & Redruth, Lancaster & Fleetwood, Lincoln, Morecambe & Lunesdale, North Warwickshire, Sherwood, Thurrock, and Truro & Falmouth.
• In the West Midlands, nearly 2,000 ambulances had waited more than an hour in February 2013 to hand over A&E patients
• An average of ten ambulances a day were stuck waiting to deliver patients to the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s emergency department
• Darent Valley Hospital was closed on 3 January to admissions for six and a half hours, and ambulances had to be diverted to other hospitals
• Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is currently understaffed in its A&E departments
• King’s Mill Hospital where women with breast cancer were given faulty test results prioritised money over patient care, said a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report
• Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has been named as the worst in England for patients waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted to A&E
• Nurses at the Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital have raised concerns they are no longer able to care for patients because of overcrowding and understaffing.
The report said: “In eleven of the most marginal Conservative seats the NHS is becoming associated with an intense period of crisis.
“In all eleven of the seats, local hospitals or trusts have serious staffing shortages, which is having a clear impact on patient care.
“Six of the constituencies are close to one of the eleven high profile hospitals that have been put under special measures for poor performance and high mortality rates: North Warwickshire, Sherwood, Broxtowe, Amber Valley, Thurrock and Lincoln.
“Five of the constituencies are linked to hospitals that Monitor - regulator for health services in England - regard as having a high risk of financial failure: Sherwood, Broxtowe, Lancaster and Fleetwood, Morecombe and Lunesdale, and Amber Valley.
“Six are also close to hospitals that have Monitor’s highest warning for poor governance: Thurrock, Sherwood, Broxtowe, Lancaster and Fleetwood, and Morecambe and Lunesdale and Amber Valley.
The report said that the impact of outsourcing NHS services to private companies has created problems and negative publicly in three of the areas - Truro and Falmouth; Cambourne and Redruth; and
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “In the Tories’ 11 marginal seats, the NHS is going through an intense period of crisis – it is in those seats where Labour is in second place and which it needs to win that the failures of the Tories’ health policies should be rammed home to voters.
“Tory MPs voted for this pernicious act, so if they campaign locally against the very cuts to the NHS this legalisation has imposed, this smacks of hypocrisy.
“This research proves that the government’s NHS reorganisation has been a disaster, with patient care under threat across England. The act needs to be repealed by a future Labour government.”
The full research link is: http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/NHSCriticalMarginals10-1311-13516.pdf
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
The NHS Support Federation investigated instances where local hospitals (those within approximately 15 miles of the MP’s constituency office
or within reach for local patients) had performed poorly under inspection from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
It compared hospitals in and around these constituencies with information from the CQC about units with inadequate levels of staffing.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.