I first became aware of a problem with our healthcare provision and the appalling treatment of our NHS workforce when our 120 year old Hospital was suddenly closed here in Dartmouth in 2017 after an expensive predetermined deception which I later learned was referred to as a consultation.
I am just an ordinary resident and I was not consulted and was only made aware of the closure by a friend.
The so-called consultation was apparently a leaflet delivered with junk mail and less than 5% of our residents responded to it, yet the loaded tick form those few people filled out has been used ever since by our deceptively titled Health Care Providers as a reason for removing all of our NHS Hospital Services including end of life beds ,respite beds and recovery beds along with our MIU and much, much more.
The loss of so many community hospitals like ours has put tremendous pressure on our already underfunded NHS and has left staff exhausted and demoralised ,often working unpaid over time due to staff shortages and traumatised by what they see as failure to give the patients the level of safe care required ,while at the same time exposing themselves to unexceptable risk of harm.
One nurse said that the casual acceptance of corridor nursing was the final straw and moved abroad for better pay and conditions, I know of four staff who have left in just a couple of months, a loss to the NHS is a huge loss to us all.
Only yesterday I saw photos of injuries to a nurse that simply should not happen in a safe fully staffed environment.
The growing waiting lists pre-covid were already leaving patients and staff members including one of 30 years service out of work and out of action for prolonged periods as they too wait for what is now becoming rationed care and the waiting lists grow out of control, even nurses and doctors are having to wait for care, referrals and operations themselves, increasing pressure further.
I became the founder of Heart of the Dart -- a residents action and protest group (formally Women of Dartmouth and District) -- and discovered that there was also also a plan to sell off our Hospital Building despite a charge gifting it to our community as a Hospital in perpetuity via deeds of covenant.
The Hospital has served this Community for 120 years and sits in a prime location where a few hundred yards away along the river bank residential properties can command £5 million.
As I looked further into what had happened in our Town I realised these plans were embedded years before the actual closure with available vacancies and posts within our local Hospital Trust offered at below accepted pay grades for that band or education level, unsurprisingly there were few takers ,I see that as sabotage the disrespect towards our healthcare staff goes back a long way.
I was told by a former staff member that patients from differing postcodes where shuffled around various community hospitals leading up to the removal of our hospital services to show no demand in our area.
The Trust said they could not staff our Hospital but they failed to mention their own role in the reasons why.
They also said the building was not fit for purpose, yet the viability report showed the services to be excellent and the building to be in good condition.
More than 40,000 nurses have left our NHS during the past decade leaving those who stay over worked, understaffed and as covid19 has shown us, totally under-equipped.
The fact that our NHS and healthcare staff are treated with such disrespect is unpalatable to us all.
These are the very people who save our lives or bring comfort to us at the end of our lives and those we trust to care for our loved ones during sickness or injury.
Approx 1000 NHS staff have sacrificed their own lives during the covid19 pandemic while helping our familes, all while being battered by austerity too and having no real pay increase for far too long.
I believe we all want our NHS staff and carers well paid, well trained, well rested and well equipped so they can continue to give their optimum best and live a decent way of life in return.
In my eyes that's the very least we can do.
That's why Heart of the Dart and the good people of Dartmouth and South Devon support the NHS 15 campaign.
Since Losing our NHS Hospital provision here in Dartmouth we have our seniors on cold pavements for up to eight hours waiting for ambulances, workmen going into shock after accidents at work, GPs put on hold listening to music on a 999 call, an injured lady driving herself out of town to the nearest hospital, her foot slipping off the peddles as her shoe filled with blood and now my own friends are dying at home alone without care or comfort, too afraid to admit to being ill or in need of assistance for fear of being shipped out of town never to return in echoes of the bad old days.
That's simply not good enough.
These are the very people who built our NHS and worked it, whilst willingly paying hard earned dues to make sure EVERYONE was covered cradle to grave, in a mass act of solidarity, socialism and love from our parents and grandparents, our beautiful legacy.
The public need to be reminded that it is not free everyone pays in, it is that system that keeps it free for all at the point of need.
The NHS has been celebrated since the very first day and the staff that work within in it have never ever let us down, NOW is the time to show them that we won't let them down either.
Please gather your friends and families on 3rd July and show our NHS and it's staff how much we truly value them.
Heart of the Dart welcomes everyone to come along and support our NHS STAFF pay demands and claim your family's NHS back and remind the profiteers that WE THE PEOPLE are the true stakeholders and have been investing in OUR NHS for 73 YEARS.
IT'S OUR HOSPITAL AND IT'S OUR NHS.
EVERY BED AND EVERY BRICK BELONGS TO US .
Saturday 3rd July 2021, 12 pm till 4pm, Dartmouth and Kingswear Cottage Hospital.
Please see list of events across the UK and support our NHS staff in their right to decent pay, demand safe conditions for all and an end to privatisation.
Last Updated: Thursday 17 February 2022