Fit for the Future

This week I was delighted that West Sussex Primary Care Trust suspended their hated Fit for the Future programme of hospital downgrading.  But I was infuriated at their mishandling of a shambolic process which has lasted three years and cost millions of pounds.

The price of that waste really hit home when I heard the sad news that my constituent, Carole Simmons, lost her fight against cancer.  Carole's NHS treatment was withdrawn when her family paid themselves for a drug which the NHS would not provide but which helped to extend her life.

On top of the cost of the drug itself, the family had to pay about £20,000 for routine medicines, scans and consultant appointments which would otherwise have been available on the NHS.  What a terrible story.

In the same way, the implications of a banking collapse were brought home to me on Tuesday evening when I spoke to a desperate constituent whose life savings had been frozen in ICESAVE, the internet bank which appears to have gone under.

A day later, relief came as the Government said that it would guarantee the savings - but only for personal investors.  Now we've learnt that West Sussex County Council has £12.9 million in an Icelandic bank.  Fortunately it's only 5 per cent of their cash deposits.  But when taxpayers will already be paying dearly for some time to bail out Britain's banks, an extra bill for local people would be bad news.

The economy is now in recession.  The number of mortgage approvals crashed by 95 per cent in August, new car registrations fell by over a fifth last month, and unemployment is forecast to rise.

The consensus is that standing by and watching banks go down would have been worse for taxpayers than bailing the financial institutions out.  But when people are paying such a price, they won't put up with public bodies like West Sussex PCT wasting money in future.

Michelle Taylorhospitals