Come clean on latest proposals

Published on: 12 Aug 2015

POLITICIANS and campaigners have again called on local NHS leaders to come clean on the latest proposals for a community hospital at Frenchay and a minor injuries unit at Cossham.
Three local MPs raised their concerns at a debate in Westminster Hall last month, just days after the issues had been in the spotlight at a South Gloucestershire Public Health and Health Scrutiny meeting.
Jack Lopresti, Chris Skidmore and Luke Hall said the people of South Gloucestershire were being sold short over healthcare provision, having been promised a 68-bed hospital at Frenchay and a minor injuries unit (MIU) at Cossham, neither of which has been delivered.
They called on South Gloucestershire Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for providing healthcare, to give a clear outline and timetable for what is now proposed in both cases.
Health Minister Jane Ellison said she shared the MPs' exasperation over the delays and would write to the CCG about timings.
The CCG has already been criticised twice by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over “pauses” and changes to plans.
Mr Lopresti said that when Frenchay Hospital closed in May last year, with acute services moving to the £430 million superhospital at Southmead, there had been a commitment to opening a 68-bed community hospital in 2016.
But the CCG has not yet made a final decision and it looks likely that any community beds at Frenchay will not be in place before November 2019.
“Is it any wonder that a large number of my constituents feel bitter and that many are extremely sceptical that there will ever be a community hospital at Frenchay?” Mr Lopresti said.
He pointed out that the community hospital, first promised in 2005 and again in 2010, was needed more than ever because the population of South Gloucestershire had increased by 10 per cent in the last decade and was expected to rise further.
Mr Skidmore said the delays over Frenchay were inexcusable and the delays over the Cossham MIU were unacceptable.
He said a room at Cossham, which reopened in 2013 after a £19 million revamp, was ready and waiting for the MIU and it would be “common sense” to place it at the hospital, alongside the X-ray facility.
Earlier this summer, Mr Hunt gave the go-ahead for the CCG's alternative proposal – put forward last year - to try out minor injuries services at GP surgeries instead.
The CCG is expected to announce details of where these will be sited in September and to start the pilot scheme, which will last a minimum of 12 months,  towards the end of the year. It will not make a final decision on Cossham MIU until that is completed, meaning that the earliest the unit could start is 2017 – four years after the hospital reopened.
Reg Bennett, of the re-formed Save Cossham Hospital Campaign, and Jo McCarron, who campaigned for the MIU as Labour's candidate at the general election earlier this year, both spoke out at the Public Health and Health Scrutiny meeting about the delays.
Mr Bennett said he was frustrated and disgusted at the inaction of the CCG, which was leaving local people without access to urgent care.
Barbara Harris, from Downend,  who has campaigned for Frenchay Hospital for more than ten years, and fellow campaigner Daphne Havercroft also outlined their concerns over the CCG's proposals, and its capacity to tackle the issues.

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