AS new figures are released showing that the number of people on NHS waiting lists has increased by 2,000 for each month that the current government has been in power, it would seem that what is needed is more hospital beds, not less.
This makes it even more of a bitter pill to swallow hearing that Ashfield Community Hospital is proposing to close all four of its inpatient wards in favour of running an outpatient-only service.
The wards currently offer care for patients with dementia on the Bronte and Shelley wards, as well a stroke rehabilitation unit and neuro-rehabilitation services.
It is proposed that these services will be moved to various locations across the county, leaving friends and families of local people with these conditions having to travel long distances on public transport or paying substantial amounts of money on car-parking charges at other sites.
I’m sure anybody who has visited family in hospital is aware how high these charges can be and with a condition such as dementia, which is long term, these costs would soon add up and put a financial strain on those on modest incomes.
The Mansfield and Ashfield NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the group who are pushing forward this process. It has chosen to consult the community on these proposals over the summer, when not only are many people away on holiday but also the local councils are not sitting so would be unable to formulate a fully-considered response by the deadline of this Sunday (September 2).
This offers up many questions.
People may remember that Ashfield Health Village was formerly the site of the NHS walk-in centre, which was closed down in October 2011 following a consultation where promises were made to the public and not kept.
While this current consultation tries to sell the idea that services will be improved by relocating, what trust can we have that these services won’t go the way of the walk-in service and cease to exist?