February 2021: Letters

January 25 2021

Community hospital: we're still waiting!

AS readers will know, I regularly question South Gloucestershire Council and the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, as to lack of progress on healthcare provision on the Frenchay site. It does feel that I am flogging a dead horse, but still I continue, because I know that Southmead Hospital lacks sufficient beds for the population it serves.
For the benefit of newcomers, it was agreed in March 2005 that a new acute hospital would be built at Southmead and a community hospital on the then Frenchay Hospital site. Without the Frenchay provision, the plan was incomplete. The new hospital at Southmead opened in April 2014 with only 800 beds: a reduction of 320. The reduction was possible, we were assured, as the Frenchay provision, our community hospital, would offset it.
In 2010, after much thorough work, formal approval was granted for a community hospital at Frenchay of 68 beds, with other much-needed facilities, under the Labour government. In 2010 the incoming Conservative government scrapped the project. Frenchay is now referred to as a “health care facility” and not a community hospital, like the one in South Bristol.
Just as the new Southmead hospital was opening, Chris Skidmore MP raised the issue of the lack of promised community hospital provision at Frenchay in Parliament. Seven years later, we are still awaiting our community provision at Frenchay and I have received no evidence from either the Council or BNSSG that the project has even begun. Each body repeatedly assures me of their commitment to the project but when I ask for evidence, they can provide none to support their claims.
I have on file letters from BNSSG stating an aim "to have a new service model commencing delivery in April 2020". So where is it?
Our Members of Parliament, Jack Lopresti, Chris Skidmore and Luke Hall, should join forces, form a united front and bring pressure to bear on the council and the CCG to provide honest answers as to why, after 16 years, we still have no provision on the Frenchay site. Had the plan been implemented, we may not have needed the Nightingale Hospital with its associated heavy expense.
Call your MP now.
Barbara Harris

Turn sculpture to face the public

HAVING read the comments in December's issue regarding the placement of the sculpture at the old Mangotsfield C of E Primary School, I agree.
Having been born a few houses down from the school in Richmond Road, I attended the school from 1937 and today, as I pass the development, I still look at the tree, which still exists, against which I played cricket.
Therefore I was pleased to read that a sculpture was to be installed to commemorate the school's being.
However, on visiting to view the sculpture I was somewhat puzzled, as I was looking at the back of it from the pavement, with the sculpture facing a limited number of apartments, of which the occupants would probably have little interest in the school.
Could an explanation be given to how this positioning was determined? Also, could some thought be given to reversing the sculpture so that local people who attended the school and the public could view it from the pavement as they walked past?
A Smith

Thanks to shoppers

I WOULD like to share with the shoppers of Downend Co-op that I miss doing my weekly charity collections but also to let them know that, since my last collection back in March, just before lockdown, we raised enough money to donate 100 epilepsy information packs to the NHS.
It was wonderful taking the packs to the NHS building in Bristol, just days before lockdown, where the staff were so grateful and would distribute them to every local doctors surgery and hospital epilepsy ward in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, raising epilepsy awareness and money for epilepsy charities with profit from my daughter Layla's epilepsy book for kids.
Sadly, a few weeks later the book's publisher passed away from the virus. Now, nearly a year later, we hope to find a new publisher who will continue publishing Layla's book and helping raise epilepsy awareness and money for epilepsy charities.
One day, when it is safer, I look forward to fundraising again for the seven charities that have helped us over the years.
In the past few years we have donated hundreds of epilepsy information packs to every local school and library, doctors' surgery and hospital epilepsy wards in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
We hope a new publisher can help us continue this: if anyone knows a publisher who can help, we would be grateful if you can let us know through the Downend Voice.
Sarah Reid, Soundwell

'Puddle' needs a warning sign

LAST week I decided to follow a walk that Councillor Bell recommended in the Downend Voice during the summer.  We had our two dogs with us, so set off on a lovely day to do one of these walks, the one that takes you by Syston Court.
It was indeed a lovely walk, until we made our way back across the old Shortwood Golf Club course and saw what we considered a big puddle.
The dogs ran over to the puddle, which turned out to be a really deep lake: one of our poor dogs ended up in the water, frantically scrambling to get back out, only to find that they couldn't get a grip on the mud surrounding the water. It was really distressing, and we finally managed to get her out covered in mud and soaking wet.
Although this golf course is no longer used, surely there should be warning signs for people? I dread to think what would happen if a toddler fell in.

Downend Voice