Is press and publicity manipulation aimed at Labour Party Conference a suitable use of NHS money and time?
The local management of the NHS and Liverpool Women’s Hospital want fundamental and unpopular change. They applied for money to rebuild the Hospital on the site of the benighted Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Unsuprisingly they did not get the money.
The team behind these plans includes the local STP, the CCG, and the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Trust. To push these plans they have used the media in many ways. They claim that their media intervention was successful in reducing the imapct of our demonstration to Labour Party Conference in September 2018. “The impact of the demonstration march was perceived to be less than the campaign group’s previous activities”.
The state of the NHS, with under funding, privatisation, reorganisations in favour of big corporations, outsourcing, low pay, cuts in services and rationing of care is profoundly political, but interevening to affect a demonstation to Labour’s Conference is hardly aceptable even in that context. It is a questionale use of NHS resources.
More than our campaign’s entire budget will have been spent on this media offensive. This is taxpayer money that should have been spent on patient care, in a city with really poor health oucomes and where nearly twice as many babies dying before the age of one than the national average.
Our Campaign to Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital has large and widespread public support, and our campaign fundamentally disagrees with this plan. We want to keep a women’s hospital and to keep it on its current low rise and green site. We object to spending more than £100million on the project when women and babies in Liverpool face major health issues.
Our petition has 46,000 signatories, online and many more on paper. Our campaign has gained support from Labour Party branches and even Labour’s conference. Diane Abbott MP, Emily Thornberry MP, and Jonathon Ashworth MP (Labour’s spokesperson on the NHS) have all spoken at our demonstrations. The campaign is now in its 4th year.
We support the work of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. It has remarkable successes and dedicated, hard working staff. Most of Liverpool’s Babies are born at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and it has many excellent services. We are aware of problems and difficulties, but LWH is well worth protecting.
In the context of the Climate Emergency and major concerns about air quality, putting the birth of the the majority of Liverpool babies in an air polluted traffic islnd and highrise blocks seems frankly ridiculous.
In key documents at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Board Meeting on 2nd May 2019, this document ‘Strategic Aims and our Corporate Objectives 2018/19’ was presented.
Included in he report were these sections.
“..the need for a move, more decisively, to a multidisciplinary hospital site within 5-10 years.”
Commissioner support retained despite lack of success in STP Capital bid, with plans for a way forward being developed.”
Recent developments of note where these key messages were used occurred during September 2018 in advance of the Labour Party Conference. The Trust referred to the key messages to counter a planned demonstration against the plans for the future by a local campaign group. The Trust’s key messages received significant media, online, social media and public exposure with an overall average reach/audience for TV/radio/printed news of over 410k and an average reach/audience for LWH social media and website posts of almost 40k. The impact of the demonstration march was perceived to be less than the campaign group’s previous activities due to our proactive factual messaging and anecdotally the Trust feels that stakeholder understanding about our future is now more clearly understood as a result.
The board claim that;
“Dialogue is ongoing with NHSE, MPs, councillors and other stakeholders to ensure the case for change is well understood”
So in this context they feel it is acceptable to pay for whole page adverts in free sheets and in the Liverpool Echo? Is it right to be putting forward a whole major media intervention?
When the plan to “move” Liverpool Women’s Hospital was first launched they ran a story about how dangerous it was ro transfer women to other hospitals but now somehow the figures for transfers, the main plank of the earlier media message, have dramatically dropped to just one!