What will NHS changes mean for East Devon pensioners?

Tony Smith, chairman of Honiton Senior Council, expresses his concerns.

Most adults living in Honiton and the surrounding villages are, I believe, aged over 50. And many of these are pensioners; people like myself who grew up when the National Health Service looked after us all.

We went to our local doctor when we were ill and GPs contacted the nearest hospital when they knew our problem or injury was more serious.

One thing never came into our minds ... Who was going to pay for treatment or even an operation? The health service had been paid for, because everyone’s taxes took care of that.

Now we are being warned the system may change.

Because the over 50s could be hit hardest if means testing is on the government’s health agenda, Honiton’s Senior Council is to hold an Open meeting at the Royal British Legion, Dowell Street, on Monday, February 21, (10.30am). Cllr Alf Boom will talk on ‘NHS Changes - What They Mean to You’. All ages are invited to listen, learn and ask questions.

Unfortunately, nobody from doctors in Honiton and the surroundings areas will be attending.

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Dr Phil Taylor from Axminster is chairman of the Wakley Consortium, which includes Honiton, but he told me there was no point in someone from his consortium speaking, because they, themselves, have little idea what is to happen when the NHS White Paper is finally agreed.

Perhaps, our next step is to invite our MP, Neil Parish, to Honiton to speak and ask for some answers.

If he doesn’t know what NHS Changes will mean to us, perhaps the Prime Minister hasn’t even told its own members what will change in 2013. Or does he himself know how to improve health care but cut costs?

The Coalition now regularly uses the word “volunteers”. It means getting people to do work for free and save money. Is that part of the idea to give doctors more control over how they organise and budget their work?

Come along to listen to Cllr Boom, you will hear what he believes could effect you. I will be there - and not just for the free tea/coffee, biscuits & cakes provided by the Co-op’s FairTrade goods before the meeting begins.

Tony Smith

Aged 72 - thanks to two life-saving encounters with the NHS in London and Devon.