The way our hospital trust management views the people of Telford & Wrekin is starting to resemble the way the EU views the people of the UK.
Both are unelected, unaccountable bodies, comprising highly paid individuals who demonstrate a lack of humility and an apparent disregard for the people they are paid to serve. Both seem determined to get their way. Both seem to believe they may behave as they choose.
Last week the Secretary of State for Health came to Telford to listen to patients, staff and to see for himself what was happening in Telford. He was to hold a meeting with the MPs, and the Chief Executive, to ensure the views of local people were heard.
As we waited to meet the Secretary of State at the hospital entrance, with queues of people trying to pay the car parking charge, the management were having none of it. They had the Minister whisked around to a side entrance and taken to a meeting with multiple ‘men in suits.’ When we, the representatives of local people, tracked him down we found him in a meeting room: coffee, speciality teas and chocolate pastries piled high, the men in suits selling the wonders of “Future Fit” as they discussed how to avoid the Independent Review that all councillors and MPs are calling for.
Management saw the Minister’s visit as a PR opportunity to promote themselves and lobby for their plan to remove services from Telford.
They took the Minister to see the Women and Children's Unit that they are fighting so hard to close. The irony was lost on them.
Surely they know the Secretary of State is not naïve. He knows what he is up against. He knows his officials only give him the management line. He also knows he lives in a democracy, where the State cannot do as it chooses: NHS funding must follow need, the NHS has a statutory duty to narrow health inequalities, and management are not above the law.
We have a battle on our hands. Yes, we have seen condescension and contempt because they think there is nothing we can do. Yes, they hold the levers of power. But in the end we live in a democracy. You can't force unwanted change against the will of people - and you can't disregard the law. In a democracy the people get a say.