QE2 campaigners say no to legal challenge

PUBLISHED: 18:25 18 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:38 26 October 2009

QE2 Hospital

QE2 Hospital

CAMPAIGNERS who fought valiantly to save the QE2 Hospital have decided NOT to mount a High Court challenge. The Hospital SOS Taskforce has ruled out seeking a judicial review over the decision by health chiefs to move major services to the Lister in Steve

CAMPAIGNERS who fought valiantly to save the QE2 Hospital have decided NOT to mount a High Court challenge.

The Hospital SOS Taskforce has ruled out seeking a judicial review over the decision by health chiefs to move major services to the Lister in Stevenage.

Instead, the all-party group will push to ensure that the local general hospital the QE2 will become will have the best possible services and facilities.

The decision follows advice given by top legal experts.

Tory MP Grant Shapps, who chairs the taskforce, said: "Ultimately a judicial review could only challenge the process, not the decision to close these services at the QE2 and even if we had won such a legal challenge, all that would have happened is that the consultation would happen again and the same decisions would have been reached."

Lib Dem borough councillor Nigel Quinton who led the legal negotiations, said: "The priority now is to ensure the PCT backs our demand for more than just the bare minimum level of service in Welwyn Hatfield."

Labour parliamentary hopeful Mike Hobday said: "Like all local residents, I am angry at the outcome of the so-called consultation. But it is important that we now move forward to get the best possible deal from a bad situation."

Fellow taskforce member WHT editor Terry Mitchinson said: "To have continued to press for legal action in the face of expert advice would have been irresponsible.

"All I can promise is we will do our very best to ensure we get as good a local general hospital as possible."

Read here the Hospital SOS press release in full:

Press Release on behalf of the Hospital SOS Taskforce

Following the decision taken before Christmas that the Lister would be chosen as the Acute Hospital site in East & North Herts, with the QEII remodelled as a Local General Hospital (LGH), the Hospital SOS team have been working hard to find the best way to secure the best possible health facilities for Welwyn Hatfield.

We all believed that the promised Hatfield Hospital option was the best solution for local health care, but it is clear that this is not now going to happen. One option that could have been taken would have been a Judicial Review of the consultation process and the Taskforce have given this very serious consideration, and have taken legal advice. Another option, which the Evidence Group of the Task Force has been pursuing in collaboration with the Council’s Health Working Group (HWG), is to engage with the NHS trusts to push for the best possible services and facilities to be provided at the new LGH site. To this end a field visit to Edgware Community Hospital, a possible model for the new LGH was undertaken in early March.

The taskforce, an all party group including Tory MP Grant Shapps, Labour parliamentary hopeful Mike Hobday, and LibDem councillor Nigel Quinton, who has chaired the Evidence Group and sits on the HWG, have now decided to pursue the second course.

Said MP Grant Shapps: “Ultimately a Judicial Review could only challenge the process, not the decision to close these services at the QE2 and even if we had won such a legal challenge, all that would have happened is that the consultation would happen again and the same decisions would have been reached. The important thing is to ensure that we keep as many services as possible and leave room for expansion at the hospital.”

Mike Hobday added “Like all local residents, I am angry at the outcome of the so-called consultation. But it is important that we now move forwards to get the best possible deal from a bad situation. Our strong preference based on the Edgware model is not what we had hoped for initially. But it is the absolute minimum that the Primary Care Trust should provide for the QEII site.”

And Cllr Nigel Quinton summed up: “The priority now is to ensure the PCT backs our demand for more than just the bare minimum level of service in Welwyn Hatfield. I am sure the Trusts recognise the strength of feeling and also the high level of scepticism that the consultation process has left amongst local residents. We will need more than warm words – we want a clear commitment to the QEII site, and the inclusion of intermediate beds and a mid-wife led maternity unit.”

We have already, by our actions and submissions to the consultation, secured an effective dialogue with the trusts as plans for the new hospital are brought forward. Our first joint meeting, with top level representation from the Acute Trust, the PCT and the Council, took place on 14th February, and the second is scheduled for 28th March, with another in April. In addition a field visit to Edgware Community Hospital, a possible model for the new LGH was undertaken in early March.

The aim of this dialogue is to secure the following:

* A commitment to the Health Campus concept, located at the QEII site, with significant new building.

* A commitment to a model similar to that seen at Edgware Community Hospital (ECH), with day clinics in a wide variety of disciplines. Edgware provides specialist day hospital services that do not need to be sited at an acute hospital. It includes:

* Day Surgery

* Diagnostic Services (including X-ray, Ultrasound and MRI)

* Walk-in Centre

* Day Hospital – including a fantastic clinic for Parkinsons patients.

* Outpatients for adults and children

* Therapy services including: physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, nutrition & dietetics, occupational therapy and chiropody (podiatry)

* Information and Advice Centre

* Intermediate Care inpatient beds and community team

* Dental Access Centre

* The Edgware Birth Centre

* Pathology

* Pharmacy

* Mental Health Services for older people

* Mental Health Services for adults including in-patient facilities, day hospital

* Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit

* Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services

* Blood Transfusion Service

* Breast Screening Service

* An absolute commitment to the provision of intermediate beds. This is seen as crucial by GPs and was another key feature of ECH.

* A commitment to a realistic time scale for the development – noting that ECH took three years to build. It is vital that interim arrangements do not threaten patient care.

* Commitment to make this a beacon project that recruits the best possible staff. Those who visited ECH were all struck by the quality of the management and clinicians we spoke to and their entrepreneurial zeal. It is very important that the hospital is run well and is not seen as a second priority to the Lister for example if the E&NH Trust were to manage both.

* A commitment to provide a mid-wife led birthing unit.

It is important to note that the PCT does not currently include some of these features in its plans, but also we should be aware that these plans are at a formative stage. It is hoped that the trusts will take note of the strength of feeling expressed throughout the consultation process and will respond accordingly.


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