A ‘downgraded’ town hospital, problems with the 111 service and the privatisation of the NHS were the fears put before Solihull’s election candidates at a lively meeting.
At the meeting, locals questioned candidates from the five main political parties about the future of the NHS in Solihull.
Residents had the chance to fire questions at prospective MPs Lorely Burt (Lib Dem), Julian Knight (Con), Howard Allen (Green) and Phil Henrick (UKIP), at a meeting held by the Solihull Keep Our NHS Public group.
The meeting was held at the West Warwicks Sports Club last Thursday and was chaired by Syd Ashby from the National Pensioners Convention, Solihull.
Lisa Knight, a Solihull resident who attended the meeting, said she helped to raise £280,000 for Solihull Hospital 20 years ago.
“We raised thousands of pounds for this hospital to be built,” she said. “We now have a growing community but the hospital is being downgraded. Has our money been wasted?”
Solihull Hospital has recently been stripped of its accident and emergency title after a health report said it did not offer a full service. There are now plans to merge the walk-in centre, minor injuries and out-of-hours services together to form a new Urgent Care Centre.
Julian Knight admitted services had been lost at Solihull Hospital “over night” but said he believed the facility was changing for the better, with the introduction of the new urgent care centre and an increase in operations.
“But we must watch the Heart of England NHS Trust like a hawk and fight to retain these services,” Mr Knight added.
Lorely Burt said the urgent care centre would be an “upgrade” to the current service.
An NHS worker also raised concerns over the standard of the NHS 111 service, which is the non-emergency number for healthcare advice and access to local services.
Ms Burt said: “If there are concerns with this service, then this needs to be addressed.”
Phil Henrick echoed the concerns that Solihull Hospital had lost several of its services in recent years.
“We are 100 per cent committed to ensuring the NHS is free at the point of access,” Mr Henrick added.
Nigel Knowles said Labour would recruit more nurses, GPs and midwives.
“I do not want to see Solihull lose any more services,” he said. “I believe in more democracy and accountability in the NHS.”
Howard Allen said the NHS is “under-funded”. He added: “Far too many staff are being trained and then going abroad to work.
“I hope the money spent on the hospital 20 years ago was not wasted. We should be looking to upgrade our local hospital.”