Local people face uncertainty also

PUBLISHED: 11:21 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 22:06 26 October 2009

SIR - Anne Wells of the hospital union staff-side deserves to be taken seriously when she says that hospital staff are fed up with uncertainty and want to move forwards to a new hospital structure in the east of Hertfordshire. But just as deserving of cer

SIR - Anne Wells of the hospital union staff-side deserves to be taken seriously when she says that hospital staff are fed up with uncertainty and want to move forwards to a new hospital structure in the east of Hertfordshire.

But just as deserving of certainty are local residents.

Throughout the whole of the primary care trust's consultation on the issue of hospital location, there was insufficient information on what NHS services would be provided if we lost acute services from the QE2 Hospital.

Even now, with the main decision apparently taken, local people still face uncertainty about what the primary care trust is offering us.

There is talk of £750,000 for local transport initiatives like a shuttle bus - but no detail on its route or frequency.

We do not yet know if the new £30 million local general hospital will be at the QE2 site, the former ambulance station or at another location in WGC or Hatfield.

We do not know if patients referred by their GPs to the hospital will be seen by consultants from Lister or by experienced GPs.

There is talk of a possible midwife-led birthing unit, but no promise of a decision for several years.

This uncertainty is unhelpful.

The primary care trust must make it a priority to talk to local residents, to GPs and to patient groups and to the borough council about detailed plans for NHS care in the borough.

We know very well what the primary care trust is taking away, but far too little about what we might have in return.

NHS officials may not want a delay caused by a judicial review; but no-one can accept a delay caused by a continued absence of detail.

From my discussions with local GPs, even they feel uninvolved with this planning.

The primary care trust has not done a good job for Welwyn Hatfield over the last year - pulling out of the Hatfield Healthy Living Centre scheme, dropping Hatfield Hospital and bodging the consultation.

If they want to start to win back local respect, they have to be open with the detail of their plans for our health care.

Specifically, what are their plans for health promotion in the borough, particularly in the poorer areas like central Hatfield and Peartree where health problems are greatest?

Who will oversee the new health campus and how will GPs and consultants be involved?

How can they give improved and more local access to the NHS to residents of whichever town does not get the local general hospital?

It is time for the primary care trust to tell us.

Mike Hobday,

Labour parliamentary candidate,

Welwyn Hatfield.

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