The decision of East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group – the body which oversees local NHS spending – to close the canteen at Accrington Victoria is a step in the wrong direction and a clear indication of the financial pressures that the NHS in our area is facing.
Hospital food has not had the best of reputation. However Russ McLean of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group said “The food in Accrington is second to none and I will be very sorry to see it go”. I agree with Council Leader Miles Parkinson, that there is no deterioration in either the quality or the availability of the food.
Nonetheless, I believe that the canteen should remain open.
But looking at the wider picture it is clear that the CCG is making savings, and though in comparison to cutting clinical services the closure of the canteen may seem like a small step, it is nonetheless a hit to the quality of care that Accrington Victoria is able to provide to patients.
Moreover it is the wider direction of travel that is most concerning, and there is an onus on the CCG and East Lancashire NHS Hospital Trust to make it crystal clear that we are not heading to a situation where services and spending are slowly chipped away, so that we get to a point where the viability of the entire hospital is brought into question.
We only recently saved the walk-in centre from immediate closure, and this latest development looks like Accrington Victoria is still ear-marked for savings. Just weeks after the General Election, we are already seeing the first cracks in the Prime Minister’s promise to protect and improve the NHS.
I oppose the closure of the canteen, and I will vociferously oppose any attempt to reduce the NHS services which serve my constituents.