Heard the news on the radio yesterday that the old CEO of NHS Cornwall has successfully sued the NHS for unfair dismissal, John Watkinson was awarded £1.2 million as a result. He opposed the move of upper gastro-intestinal cancer services outside of Cornwall in principle and believed that legally there needed to be a public consultation. So the point has been conceded and he was right, they sacked him because he didn't agree with their centralising agenda. I waited to hear if there was more to the story, specifically if the move of cancer services would be reversed, but no. So in effect John Watkinson has received £1.2 million, the trust has spent nearly £400,000 and the people of Cornwall are left in the same position as before. The original argument was that survival rates would be better if the service moved, a point heavily contested.
I believe considering the geography of Cornwall and the amount of people here, the move of any hospital services out of Cornwall is to the detriment of Cornish people. People like me who live in Penzance face a hard enough journey getting to Truro to go to Treliske hospital (24.9 miles, 37 minute bar journey according to google maps it can take longer and believe me feels like an age when your wife is in labour). Penzance isn't the furthest west in Cornwall, or the most inaccessible place. Below are some of the distance travelled to hospital in south and west Cornwall.
Travel times by car to Treliske hospital (according to google maps):
Zennor: 27.3 miles, 42 minutes
St Just in Penwith/ Pendeen: 32.4 miles, 49 minutes
Sennen Cove: 33.9 miles, 53 minutes
St Buryan: 30.7 miles, 48 minutes
Penzance: 24.9 miles, 37 minutes
Rosudgeon: 24.3 miles, 37 minutes
Porthleven: 23.6 miles, 40 minutes
Lizard: 28.8 miles, 49 minutes
Coverack: 26.1 miles, 50 minutes
St Keverne 26.2 miles, 51 minutes
Helston: 18.1 miles, 36 minutes
So at a guess we have about an average of 45 minutes-in good traffic-for the people of west Cornwall to make it to Cornwall's only major hospital at Treliske Truro. Is this too far for people to travel for cancer treatment? after all once we add on the parking and getting to a department it's going to probably be over an hour. I think it is it's already an unnecessary strain on people who are already suffering. So anyway this was the previous system for upper GI care (also this is the distance to the only major casualty department, fully staffed maternity service amongst other things.) But the powers that be decided to move it to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, so in effect all of Cornwall's near 600,000 residents now have to travel outside Cornwall for this type of care. So let's have a look at the distances and times with the new service:
Travel times by car to Derriford hospital (according to google maps):
Zennor: 79.8 miles, 1 hour 48 minutes. (to Treliske 27.3 miles, 42 minutes)
St Just in Penwith/ Pendeen: 84.9 miles, 1 hour 55 minutes (32.4 miles, 49 minutes)
Sennen Cove: 86.3 miles 1 hour 59 minutes (33.9 miles, 53 minutes)
St Buryan: 83.1 miles, 1 hour 54 minutes (30.7 miles, 48 minutes)
Penzance: 77.4 miles, 1 hour 44 minutes (24.9 miles, 37 minutes )
Rosudgeon: 76.7 miles, 1 hour 43 minutes (24.3 miles, 37 minutes)
Porthleven: 76 miles, 1 hour 47 minutes (3.6 miles, 40 minutes)
Lizard: 82.3 miles, 1 hour 58 minutes (28.8 miles, 49 minutes)
Coverack: 79.5 miles, 2 hours 1 minute (26.1 miles, 50 minutes)
St Keverne 79.7 miles, 2 hours 2 minutes (26.2 miles, 51 minutes)
Helston: 71.1 miles, 1 hour 42 minutes (18.1 miles, 36 minutes)
I despair at the state of society and healthcare in Cornwall, when we are asking really sick people to travel for over another hour each way, to get the care treatment they need and indeed pay taxes for. So a tribunal has decided that Watkinson was unfairly dismissed for acting as a whistleblower for the move of cancer services, they agree this that much they have awarded him a large slice of cash (unfortunately coming out of the already stretched budget). So distance is factor not in the best interests of the patient, widespread public opposition, no public consultation, the tribunal seems to agree moving the services was wrong. So we might conclude the government would see sense and reverse the decision, maybe at last we might see some substance to this localism spiel? alas no. An 'independent' panel (independent of public consultation and decmocratic accountability apparently) agreed with the move and Andrew Lansley rubber stamped it. Yet another example of Devonwall and the centralisation of services and jobs east of the Tamar, undermining the Cornish economy and reducing services for the Cornish people. When will see any benefit to localism? When will the need of Cornish cancer patients become a priority?
For more on the subject read the BBC Cornwall's report on the outcome of the tribunal here.
To read my blog on the chronic underfunding of the Cornish NHS here.
If you want to e mail your MP about this click here http://www.writetothem.com/