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MP Mark Garnier's silence on the closure of Harvington Ward is deafening.

At a time when health services in our hospital are again under threat with the closure of Harvington Ward, what is the view of our MP Mark Garnier? His silence on this matter is deafening.

Tory Party politicians typically like to distance themselves from such decisions and separate out what are undeniably linked issues in order for them to avoid any blame.

However, if you look at his voting record in Parliament it explains his view. He's voted for every cut in public funding including those on the NHS, voted for the Health & Social Care Act that has opened up the NHS to more privatisation and outsourcing making the NHS unaccountable to us, and voted for so called 'welfare reform' that has targeted some of those most vulnerable in our society and causing them additional financial and mental health stress.

The loss of Harvington Ward, along with an increased model of patient self-help schemes, voluntary sector outsourcing, and community care, is a direct consequence of Worcestershire NHS having to cut £2.6 million from this budget all thanks to Tory austerity policies.

We will not see a positive transformation of the service based on clinical need or excellence, as the NHS would have us believe, and just because under pressure compliant clinicians say a community model has "proved effective elsewhere" doesn't make it true. Indeed, some local health workers disagree with the closure because they've told campaigners so.

Since the recession of 2008 the suicide rate has increased, it's cause and effect. In this time, community care models have not actually 'proved' to be as effective as our local clinicians claim. A recent Manchester University national report by Prof Louis Appleby cited increased suicide risk when patients are treated in the community versus a hospital. Further, that suicide rates should be falling but they are not because too much emphasis is being placed on an overstretched community care model. Equally, he referred to such patients likely having a background of financial difficulty, unemployment, or substance dependency. These are social and deprivation indicators that are all statistically evident in Wyre Forest and we have some of the highest self-harm rates for young people in the County with one third of such A&E referrals not being followed up on. Why? Because the services are already shutting, underfunded, and struggling to cope. What problems is this storing up for the future?

Loss of a local inpatient ward is against the wishes of our community and is not going to make things any easier for people with a mental health issue in need of local hospital intervention, with family support, to prevent the worst happening. Evidence demonstrates that if inpatient facilities are not close to a patients home, it can actually harm outcomes for patients. Redditch and Worcester are too far away for them.

Many residents in Wyre Forest live a daily financial struggle and face stressful lives that harm their mental health. Fancy and expensive Tory Party propaganda wraparounds in local newspapers, as witnessed this week, declaring all is well with the World are not going to change the reality for them.

Closing Harvington Ward will not improve mental health services, it will likely make matters worse. That is why Wyre Forest Labour Party believe it is a dangerous move and should be reversed. The reason Tory MP Mark Garnier isn't lobbying for the funding to keep it open is because he and his Party are the cause of what's going wrong in our NHS and because mental health illness is not considered important enough by too many elected politicians.

Stephen Brown
Wyre Forest Labour Party
In support of the "Campaign to Save Harvington Ward"
Kidderminster
07966 518726

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