There was a public meeting in Honiton on Saturday (26th June 2010) at the Royal British Legion and I managed to pop along for part of it. It is part of a series of consultation exercises so the NHS (Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust) can listen to the views of people in the area – concerning the proposed changes to maternity provision at Honiton, Okehampton and Tiverton.
Unfortunately – I don’t think anyone attending the meeting really felt that the panel of three NHS representatives were really listening to anyone, except themselves! Their initial presentation was supposed to take just 5 – 10 minutes and went on for about 20 mins, with the women trying to justify cutting the excellent maternity services at Honiton with stories of their own difficult childbirth experiences!!
Vernon Whitlock (town councillor for Honiton) was a great chairperson and supported the many mothers in the room, most with their own little ones playing at their feet, with their comments and questions about the cutbacks being proposed. The Save Honiton Maternity Unit group handed in their petition (photo at the top). We collected quite a few sheets of names on our own Green Party Stalls over the past few months, which contributed to the 1500 signatures handed in (with another thousand or two to be handed in at a later date). New MP for Tiverton & Honiton Neil Parish stood up to support the parents asking for these changes to be reconsidered. See Midweek Herald article here.
I came away from the meeting quite angry and disillusioned at the NHS not seeming to listen, but just going through the motions of showing that they are consulting the public. I would be interested in all the groups and individuals who are opposed to these changes getting together to work out how this can be fought as a collective. The East Devon Green Party is against cuts to NHS services and we are prepared to work with other groups and individuals in the area to oppose these changes. Contact me (Sharon) firstname.lastname@example.org