Friday, May 12, 2006

Wiltshire NHS - The worst Year ever?

Here are three news items relating to the proposed decimation of the health service in Wiltshire. Compare this reality with the comment of Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt that this is "the best year ever" for the NHS.

Heated row over hospital closure

By Charley Morgan (Wiltshire Times)

THERE were heated confrontations in Warminster on Tuesday as more than 400 people turned up for a public meeting on the closure of the town's hospital.

The meeting at the Assembly Rooms began with 200 people shut out because not enough seats had been provided. But when the crowd started chanting Let them in' they were allowed to stand at the back of the hall to hear what Kennet and North Wilts and West Wilts primary care trusts had to say.

Protesters gathered outside the hall before the meeting, with placards and banners chanting Save Warminster Hospital' as health chiefs arrived. Roger Davey, of Unison, told the crowd on a loudspeaker: "This is the start of a long campaign.

"We are fighting for a hospital service, the NHS and for the elderly. We need the hospital service to keep people alive." Tessa Atwater, of Friends of Warminster Hospital, said: "There are 16 primary schools that are served by this hospital, who is going to take them to the hospital if they are having an asthma attack and need to be put on a nebuliser?"

Inside, Carol Clarke, chief executive of both PCTs, faced a barrage of questions on the Pathways for Change document, which lists three options, all outlining the closure of Warminster Hospital. Cllr Chris March said: "The hospital belongs to the people. There are no alternatives in place and we will be left with nothing if we are not careful."

Dr Vivian Stevens, a GP at The Avenue Surgery, Station Road, told the PCT board: "This document reminds me of an Easter egg lots of packaging but very little inside. There are no provisions for palliative and terminal care."

Protester Michelle Meadows asked the PCT if it were true women from west Wiltshire will not be able to give birth in the district in future, with the maternity unit at Trowbridge Hospital facing the axe. Mrs Clarke simply replied: Yes unless they give birth at home."

A nurse from Warminster Hospital asked what kind of care could be provided for the elderly at home if they did not have air mattresses to prevent bedsores and hoists to lift them.

Julie Clatworthy, director of clinical governance and chief nurse, said: "People are much more likely to get infections such as MRSA in hospital than they are at home so it's going to be much better for them."

Michael Turner, from Warminster Independent Trade Association, said: "This is not a consultation it's a creditors meeting. If you were a private company you would be bankrupt as it is you are just morally bankrupt."

Show of strength in hospital battle

By Nigel Kerton (Gazette & Herald)

THE people of Marlborough and the surrounding area put on an amazing show of force on Monday to demonstrate to health chiefs their anger at proposed cuts in Savernake Hospital services.

At least 700 people turned out to let the Kennet and North and West Wiltshire Primary Care Trusts see they will not let the hospital close or accept any reduction in services without a fight.

Fewer than 200 people were admitted to the meeting in the Assembly Room, the biggest room in the town hall, because of health and safety limitations on numbers.
More than 500 were turned away including the leader of Kennet District Council Chris Humphries.

He and John Macdonald, who is a member of the Marlborough Area Community Strategic Partnership, counted more than 500 disappointed people who were turned away.
Those in the queue were placated with the promise of another meeting and yesterday the PCT confirmed it would take place on June 26, at 6.30pm in the Memorial Hall at Marlborough College, which seats 450.

There were calls for the PCT chief executive Carol Clark and other trust members to resign.

Anger was also expressed that Mrs Clark gave a presentation lasting 30 minutes when chairman Professor Alastair Bellingham had limited the meeting to just 75 minutes.
Under discussion were three options for the future of healthcare in the district, none of them keeping the minor injuries unit open at Savernake and one of them proposing the hospital should close.

MP Michael Ancram pointed out that option one would leave the whole of Kennet with no hospital, no minor injuries unit and no maternity unit. He said the area had a population of 100,000 and added: "What is proposed is simply not good enough."
Without blaming the PCT Mr Ancram said: "We are paying the penalty for being underfunded and what we have been asked to accept is unacceptable."

Dr Jonathon Glover, a Marlborough GP, said the interest in the town was on retaining Savernake Hospital and building on its services.

Dr Glover said the new hospital, which opened in September after a £10million rebuild, had not been given a chance to prove itself and said: "We need the trust of the PCT to help us through the first 18 months and get it running."

There was applause when Nigel Triptree, a local resident, said the present dire straits the PCT was in was "due to bad management".

Ray White, president of the Friends of Savernake, revealed they had given more than £500,000 to the hospital over the last 50 years but said its last gift of £60,000 had not even brought a letter of thanks from the PCT.

Make your protest heard now
(Gazette & Herald)

SAVE OUR HEALTH SERVICES: THOUSANDS of fliers and posters are being printed this week urging people to turn out in their hundreds to protest against the threats to Chippenham Hospital at a public meeting next week.

Campaigners want to see maximum turnout at the Neeld Hall meeting on Tuesday evening to prove to the Kennet and North and West Wiltshire Primary Care Trusts just how strong feeling is.

Retired GP Nick Whyatt said a band of protesters would be handing out fliers at supermarkets and sticking posters up around the town.

He urged concerned residents to write to the health trusts now with their fears.

"We can't accept any type of closure or loss to hospital beds in Chippenham," said Dr Whyatt. "In fact we must have another meeting to discuss enlargement of the hospital.

"There must be no reduction in beds.

"Chippenham Hospital is a hub of services for the elderly and new plans should be drawn up."

Dr Whyatt said he couldn't stress enough the importance of people letting the trusts know how concerned they are.

He said: "The PCT thinks it is not getting any letters, and what we want is an overwhelming number so they can't ignore them."

MP James Gray met with protesters and a group of doctors last week to discuss the way forward at next week's meeting.

He said: "I am by no means convinced that the threat to Chippenham Hospital has receded. It appears that the PCT very much prefers option one, but all three options in the consultation paper would mean the effective destruction of community hospitals across Wiltshire, with only the slenderest resemblance of a hospital left in Chippenham.

"My strong view is that all three options are unacceptable and that everyone must write and campaign to reject all three and call for the preservation of community hospitals in the area.

"I urge all those concerned to come to the Neeld Hall on May 16 at 6.30pm to let their views be known to the PCT.

"I hope to be joined there by doctors Nick Brown and John Barter of the Rowden Partnership, Jamie Brosch of the Hathaway Surgery, Chris Dyer, the geriatric care consultant at Chippenham Hospital and Robert Muir from the Lodge Surgery."


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