Members of the Save Leek Hospital attended the public board meeting of the North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group on Tuesday, April 4. The open meeting was held in the Churnet Room at Moorlands House in Leek at 2.30pm. Following the official business of the CCG board’s meeting, there was a public section where a member of the action group read out the following statement to the board members, with the aim of further raising awareness of the town’s feeling on the future of Leek Moorlands Hospital…
The Save Leek Hospital Campaign has been created to protect the services and the building in which they are currently housed.
Within a short space of time, we have been successful in bringing to the attention of local residents, the very real threats which, we believe, face this hospital. As a local issue to Leek, the public support is unprecedented. Over xx thousand people have signed the online and paper versions of the petition. In addition, many councillors, businesses and public bodies have expressed their support.
Whilst engaging with townsfolk on this subject, we have discovered lots of anecdotal information which suggests that there is already a plan to move services away from the Ashbourne Road site and Leek, in general. These include:
- a facility to weigh severely disabled people where a lady has reported that she was told funding had been cut and has been offered no viable alternative – this lady has no legs and no way of traveling to Stoke other than to charter a taxi there and back.
- a gentleman, who is prescribed Warfarin, has been told that his check-ups will no longer be performed at Leek Hospital.
- there is a perception amongst staff that they will be sent to other hospitals and they have been told by management that consultation will start on that matter “soon”.
- ambulance personnel have confirmed that a permanent vehicle is no longer sited in town – this move most definitely puts lives at risk and whilst we understand that the service can never cover all eventualities, residents can reasonably expect an emergency vehicle to be there to cover the growing population in town and its satellite villages.
It would appear that decisions have already been taken in advance of the twelve-week public consultation, due to start after the local council elections in May.
Local people are hearing these stories and are very concerned that the consultation will merely be a “tick-box” exercise.
Those in authority need to be aware that this much-loved and much-valued facility will not be allowed to simply wither on the vine as the CCG looks to strip out services and present the case for closure, as a formality, once the heart has been ripped out.
Leek is very unique, in many ways, but, in this situation, it serves many outlying areas where the existing infrastructure, including public transport, supports regular travel to the town. Transport links to places like the Haywood Hospital are extremely convoluted and are likely to incur significant additional cost to users, be they patients or visitors.
We understand that it is incumbent on you, as constituent parts of the CCG, to look to obtain the optimum value however we would implore you to look at this case in an holistic way so as to fully assess the impacts on patients, staff and the town itself. Not all decisions can be vindicated by a simple saving against the bottom line of a profit and loss account.
Rest assured, the Action Group shall continue to battle any plans to downgrade the hospital in any way, shape or form. Any plan of this ilk will not be the path of least resistance.