League’s outrage at new hospital axe

THE decision to pull the plug on plans to create a new Clevedon hospital has been branded ‘shockingly outrageous’ by a voluntary group which has supported the town’s hospital for more than 50 years.

In a statement released this week, The League of Friends of Clevedon Hospital has accused health bosses of treating North Somerset people as ‘second class’ to those in Bristol, where new multi-million pound hospital facilities have recently been created.

In July, NHS North Somerset and NHS South of England announced the scheme to create a new facility at land off Millcross would be unaffordable in the current economic climate. This was just weeks before work was due to start on the site, bought in 2010.

Now, The League of Friends, a voluntary group which has raised thousands of pounds for additional equipment and items for patients at Clevedon Hospital, has vowed to fight the decision.

In a statement, it said: “This shockingly outrageous decision has been taken by health professionals who are charged with the heavy responsibility of planning, protecting and safeguarding the healthcare programmes for everyone living in this community.

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“If this decision is allowed to stand unchallenged, it means the purchase of the land, four years of planning, thousands of hours of work by dedicated NHS staff, frightening sums of money spent on architects, business consultants and financial advisers and a preferred contractor appointed, will all be discarded.

“What a scandalous waste of resource and public money.”

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In their statement, members raise issue with the fact numerous references to completing the new hospital still feature widely in the Local Commissioning Plan for 2012/13 for the North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which made up of representatives from GP practices in the district and will take over health service decision-making from April next year.

Concerns have also been raised that NHS bosses are yet to say what other options are being considered for future provision in Clevedon.

The group said: “We are told there is no plan B. NHS North Somerset, simply put, has no idea what to do for the future.

“Instead, patients are required to soldier on using the Cottage Hospital as before for short-term inpatient care, minor injuries and a very limited diagnostic service in a Victorian building bequeathed by the generosity of the Elton family more than 135 years ago.”

It continues “This is disgraceful treatment, to be consigned to the use of out-dated local hospital facilities without any hope of this being addressed in the foreseeable future.”

The friends have vowed to continue fighting the decision and have arranged meetings with Dr Mary Backhouse, chairman of the CCG, and Deborah Evans, chief executive of the new Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Cluster Board, which oversees the work of the primary care trusts in the three areas. They also plan to meet with North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox.

The statement adds: “Our object is to trace through the historical decisions taken over four years, to trace back where the funds were set aside, either capital or revenue expenditure, that have suddenly disappeared. We have to explore all possible avenues until we have the new hospital reinstated.”

The group is also encouraging residents to lobby their MP, local councillors, GPs and NHS bosses.

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