Leading Labour politicians have rubbished comments made by the local Tory party – and accused the group of attempting to pre-empt the outcome of a review into urgent care services in Trafford just for political gain.
The status of Altrincham Minor Injury Unit (AMIU) is currently being reviewed alongside all urgent care provision within the borough.
The council’s Health Scrutiny Committee – chaired by Conservative councillor Dylan Butt – is regularly briefed on all aspects of the review.
However, a motion tabled by the Conservative Group during the meeting of Full Council on Wednesday, claimed that the current status of the unit means those living in the south of the borough are being unfairly treated.
In addition, they dismissed staffing issues as a reason for the AMIUs current situation.
Labour councillor, Ben Hartley, who has been a member of the council’s Health Scrutiny Committee since 2019, explained that the AMIU is regularly discussed and is currently under review.
“We have asked searching questions of Manchester Foundation Trust to ensure there is a secure future for Altrincham Hospital,” argued Cllr Hartley.
“Nobody in Greater Manchester has ready access to a minor injury unit because that type of service does not accord with NHS national guidance.
“That is partly why it has proven so difficult to recruit suitably qualified staff for the Altrincham unit.
“Plus, the fact that the devolution deal from government to pay for Health and Social Care results in lower funding for residents across the region.”
Cllr Hartley, who works as a Principal Legal Adviser for a healthcare regulator, added: “This motion is an attempt by Trafford Conservatives to pre-empt the outcome of the review.
“It is not based on evidence or facts, but on delusional suggestions they have made that the service is being cut because everyone who lives in South Trafford has private health insurance.
“This is populist bunkum.”
Cllr Hartley continued: “The future of the unit and Altrincham Hospital will be decided once we have the outcome of the review, and informed recommendations that we can consider with residents.
“Meanwhile, I will continue to scrutinise the situation and I know other members of the Health Scrutiny Committee will do the same.”
Cllr Jane Slater, Executive Member for Health and Care, also expressed her frustration with the Conservative motion labelling it ‘disrespectful’.
“Everyone is aware that health service staff have been depleted over recent years, and for many reasons, austerity, Brexit, covid, excessive hours and low pay,” argued Cllr Slater.
“The staffing issues that the Conservatives are referring to are actually a reality for everyone currently using the NHS.
“And yet, they have the audacity to assume the outcome of an extremely serious and complex consultation which has not been concluded – this shows nothing but disrespect to all those people working tirelessly to review our urgent care services.”