New criteria which means some patients can no longer access transport to healthcare represent a “dangerous disservice” to patients.
That’s the view of former Berwick Borough and North Sunderland Parish Councillor Bill Weeks, who is furious with new national guidelines introduced by the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group on October 20.
The new rules have seen patients phone to book their usual ambulance taxi for coming appointments or operations, only to be told they are no longer eligible.
Commenting on the Berwick Advertiser’s Facebook page, Irene Windram said she was “made to feel like a scrounger” when she asked for transport to hospital for an eye operation. “As a result my sister is losing a day’s work without pay to take me,” Ms Windram said.
Mr Weeks, who lives in Seahouses, this week branded the move “catastrophic”.
He said: “It’s a disgusting decision. The people who have made it should be made accountable, and told in no uncertain terms this is a dangerous disservice to the people it will effect. It will have a catastrophic effect on the health and wellbeing of people, through no fault of their own, who are trying to access essential medical care.”
Mr Weeks also condemned the CCG for not informing patients about the changes before they were implemented. “It’s absolutely disgusting,” he said. “The way it has been presented is an insult to the sick and the elderly.”
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith has described the move as a “ham-fisted attempt” to stop unnecessary use of patient transport, and is putting pressure on the CCG to use some “common sense”.
Writing in this week’s Berwick Advertiser, he added: “I have had numerous calls to my surgery and my office from desperately worried constituents. It seems that a ham-fisted attempt to stop unnecessary and unjustified use of patient transport by a minority has hit the very people for whom patient transport was designed and is essential. It is once again treating Berwick people unfairly in access to public services.”
> It’s all part of the on-going austerity-as-excuse- for-privatisation-of-the- NHS drive. As a Lib Dem MP, and therefore a member of the coalition that’s in the driving seat, surely he can’t be suprised ?
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 15 Nov 2014
Berwick will be the location of another pair of demonstrations this summer as far-right groups announced intentions to march through the town.
Far-right groups the Scottish Defence League and the North East Infidels plan to travel to Berwick in order to hold a protest on July 5.
At a meeting last Friday Berwick Trades Union Council along with local anti-fascist campaigners discussed the two groups’ planned protest.
A statement was released expressing the council’s “revulsion and deep concern at the prospect of these fascist thugs once again invading our community with their messages of hate and division.
“In February last year Berwick put up a tremendous display of solidarity in opposing the SDL and EDL. The fascists on the other hand chanted racist slogans and caused mayhem in the town centre.”
The statement went on to call for a local response, which will be in the form of a counter demonstration in the same vein as last year.
“We call on all those who supported the anti- fascist demonstration last year to do the same this year but this time to make it even bigger and stronger. Let’s tell these racist thugs they are not welcome in our peaceful and inclusive community. We have an organising meeting on Friday June 20 open to all those groups and individuals in our community who want to show a collective opposition to the fascists.”
The visiting groups are describing their march as a Ban the Burka event, and are planning to wear balaclavas as a sign of protest.
The Berwick United Against Fascism group describe the SDL as a “racist group with an established record of mounting protests which regularly feature racist chanting, placards and Nazi salutes.”
The NEI, meanwhile, are deescribed as a “more openly racist and fascist than the EDL, splitting from it when its leader allowed Jews to join the EDL.”
They are led by Warren Faulkner, who describes himself as “the Islamic terminator and leftist beateruperer.”
There were five SDL arrests during the afternoon, and widespread discontent with the massive cost of policing the demonstrations after traffic through town was stopped.
In a letter to the ‘Advertiser’, resident Michael Stewart complained: “Who is footing the bill for the massive police presence in the town to control this unruly mob? I have a feeling it will be the taxpayer, so that helps to explain why the police precept element of the council tax is rising this year!”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 16 June 2014