Heatherwood ‘will not close’ says hospital bossBy Jennie Slevin
December 17, 2012
Health bosses insisted Heatherwood ‘will not close’ when they met patients to discuss plans to downsize the hospital to save cash and improve health care.
Those concerned about plans to close wards and move the Minor Injuries Unit voiced their issues to senior nurses, doctors and hospital executives at a Shaping the Future consultation meeting at Grange Hotel in Bracknell town centre last Thursday.
Fears were raised the Ascot hospital may close if services continue to be cut.
But explaining reforms to the NHS are happening across the country, Charles Waddicor, chief executive of NHS Berkshire, said: “I can tell you on the record that Heatherwood Hospital is not going to close.
“It should have and will have a future but it has to be different.”
Shaping the Future proposes moving a range of services out of Heatherwood, including relocating the Minor Injuries Unit to the Royal Berkshire Bracknell Clinic in Brants Bridge, closing the stroke rehabilitation ward to encourage home recovery and permanently closing the Ascot Birth Centre.
When asked if the hospital would remain an NHS unit Mr Waddicor promised there would be a new elective surgery unit and it would be a Government-owned service.
Members of the public expressed worries they will have very few localised health services, something pressure groups have been campaigning against.
Val Pearce, of Save Heatherwood Hospital, said: “We want a hospital but it’s like they’re cutting it up in pieces.
“We’re a large community that’s getting bigger, where will everyone go for health care?
“Our services are being sliced away.”
Most of the questions were about changes to move the hospital’s stroke rehabilitation service into the community.
Rehab nurse, Julia Bliss has been working on a similar project in West Berkshire for 10 years and would be involved in the proposed changes. She believes the majority of people want to recover in their own homes, adding: “Patients are more comfortable at home, they know which side of bed to get out of, they know where everything is, and it’s proven that people do get better more quickly at home.”
However, campaigners are worried those cared for in the community are at risk of being cared for by too many different doctors and nurses.
Julia added: “We will be working with small groups of professionals who are assigned to a specific area.
“At times of illness or when people are on leave we will need different staff but mostly it will be the same two or three carers.”
The consultation closes on Monday, January 31, to have your say or to book onto the next consultations in Ascot and Bracknell go to www.berkshire.nhs.uk/shapingthefuture