Statement: HOLD Campaign urges NHS to drop closure proposals… Or face court battle

The Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust will face a Judicial Review, funded and supported by the community of the Forest of Dean, when they make the decision to close Lydney and Dilke Memorial Hospitals. Or they could just scrap the proposal now and save us all some money!

Lawyers for the CCG and GCS, have now replied to our pre-action letter. They have assured us that the decision has yet to be made to close the hospitals. They have been made aware of HOLD’s major concerns on the decision-making process in connection with the proposed option to replace the two hospitals with an unspecified new £11m facility in a yet-to-be decided location. Public donations of more than £4,000 have paid for this initial “pre-action” legal stage, with half remaining in reserve to pay towards further legal work.

HOLD will next need to get pledges of £30,000 in funding for the whole process, should the CCG and GCS continue to ignore the opinion of the majority of the community rather than doing the right and democratic thing by scrapping its proposals and instead investing its £11m in improving the existing hospitals and their sites.

HOLD calls on the CCG and GCS to abandon its plans and reverse its hugely unpopular, unreasonable and irrational initial decision to replace the two hospitals, and instead consider the option of joint investment and improvement of the Lydney and Dilke Hospitals as the preferred option.

HOLD announced their key demands last night

HOLD is also calling for an assurance from the CCG and GCS that various care in the community programmes it is funding will be additions to, rather than replacements of, existing community hospital and healthcare services, including beds. Both sides will be anxious to avoid litigation, but HOLD is not prepared to compromise its aims.

HOLD would like to thank everyone who has supported us so far, which is a growing number of people and businesses. While the threat of legal action now hangs over the CCG and GCS in its decision-making, we will need to keep up the public pressure as well.

We urge people now to lobby their councillors and MP, organise fundraisers and help raise awareness, and join in any demonstrations until we achieve our aims.

We once again urge the CCG and GCS to listen to the people served by the NHS and what they want, abandons its proposals and commits to investing in the Dilke and Lydney Hospitals, rather than obliging us to take costly legal action.

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Press Release: HOLD Campaign Rockets Towards a Judicial Review

HOLD (Hands Off Lydney and Dilke Hospitals) Community Campaign Group has now commenced proceedings towards a Judicial Review to challenge the lawfulness of the Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) decision of 25 January 2018 to close both hospitals, replacing them with a newly built single site of unspecified location.

Following an initial CCG’s proposal in 2017 to close the two hospitals, a public consultation that ran from September to December 2017 concluded that 46% of those who took part voted against the hospitals’ closure. CCG upheld their initial decision despite public opposition to the consultation.

HOLD believes that the consultation was flawed in many ways, not least because the actual document lacks sound, factual information to enable the public to make an informed decision (whatever that might be) in the first place. Impact on equality, inadequate assessment of the number of beds required, etc add to the series of failures tainting the CCG’s decision making process.

The legal fees for bringing a claim of this magnitude to the courts runs into the tens of thousands of pounds and we can only do this by joining efforts from the community and the general public. Thus, alongside our legal campaign HOLD has now launched a CROWDFUND FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/holdourhospitals/ to fund the legal case. Every pound counts, so if you can only donate (pledge) a small amount, please do so. If you cannot donate, please share.

Zac Arnold, Press Liaison for the HOLD Campaign said: “the response received from our Crowdfunding so far has been amazing. In a time when people have very little money to spare we are seeing people dig around in their pockets to stop this frankly unlawful process.

” within 30 minutes of the launch of our Crowdfunding site at 6pm last night (Thursday 29 March) we had hit 5% of our total target and within 90 minutes we had hit 10%.

“people realise that this is worth their money and that we need to stop this process before our health and social care assets are ripped from us and replaced with a single, smaller, new hospital which is not fit for purpose.

” the campaign would like to thank everyone for their support so far and we hope to be ceberating in 30 days time when we hit our target amount of £5,000.

“Meanwhile we are not letting our campaigning activities grind to a halt. We will be continuing to run our regular #PetitionStorm events across the District and encourage anyone who may wish to take part to email the campaign at hold@writeme.com.”

Thank you for your support to save Lydney and Dilke Hospitals from closure.

Press Release: A Definitely Not Public Public Consultation.

On Saturday 17th February the HOLD campaign launched their series of #PetitionStorm Events in Cinderford East. Since then, the campaign has hosted two more similar sessions at Wyedean Sixth Form Centre and,  most recently,  in Lydney East on Saturday 17th March.

Zac Arnold, Press Liaison for the HOLD Campaign said: “The launch of our #PetitionStorm campaign was a great success with 14 volunteers joining us in Cinderford for a door to door petitioning session. But it also reinforced some very serious concerns we have regarding the validity of the public consultation.”

The public consultation ended in October last year and the outcome was published in early January this year. The outcome report made clear that from the small amount of responses received, the majority were still either against the proposals to close Lydney and Dilke hospitals or undecided. The responses being 46% against the proposal, 12% undecided and the remainder were for the proposal.

Arnold continued: “From petitioning so far, the HOLD campaign have identified three trends that reinforce serious concerns that we previously had. When looking at the responses received by our volunteers on the ground, we can see three trends. The first being that 90% of all residents we have canvassed have been against the NHS proposals.”

So, the campaign has identified that if the same patterns of responses continue, residents of the Forest of Dean are against the closure of Lydney and Dilke hospitals by a substantial majority of upto 90%.

Arnold continued: “whilst we have been canvassing, we have asked a series of questions, the most important being ‘Were you aware of the public consultation?’ and this is where a major concern arises. From data collected by the campaign, roughly 2 in every 3 residents canvassed were completely unaware of a consultation even taking place. Some residents were not even aware of the threat to the hospitals at all. This shows clearly how the consultation was an absolute shambles. It was not a public consultation at all, as not everyone was aware of it even taking place.”

The final trend picked up by the campaign questions the entire concepts of democracy and accountability within the District. Councillors from Cinderford Town Council have previously defended their stance over the hospitals and claimed that they have ‘spoken to residents who live within our wards’. Two councillors who have said this are councillors for Cinderford East.

Arnold continued: “speaking to residents of Cinderford East was particularly interesting especially when we asked the question ‘have your local councillors asked you about this?’ to which we didn’t hear a single yes. Not a single one of the residents we canvassed had been approached by the people who were elected to represent them.”

The HOLD Campaign will be hosting similar events across the District over the coming weeks and months with our next events taking place in Sedbury and then Ruardean and our supporters will be notified as soon as we have dates and locations finalised.

 

Press Release: A Valentines for our Community Hospitals

Supporters of the HOLD (Hands Off Lydney & Dilke hospitals) campaign have delivered Valentine’s cards to the Dilke and Lydney Hospitals on behalf of all those who do not support the proposal by the Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group to close them – 58% in the recent consultation (46% no, plus 12% unsure).

HOLD has also installed a temporary Valentine’s display outside the Dilke Memorial Community Hospital, showing our enduring love for our National Health Service and the two hospitals, which were built by and funded by the community.

HOLD’s Zac Arnold said: “These two hospitals were built mainly by local workers’ subscriptions and they belong to us, the people. We do not recognise any legitimacy in the decision to close them and sell them. We know they have been chronically underfunded by the GCS NHS Trust and its predecessor Trusts for more than a decade, and we insist the £11m the Trust has in its pot for a single cheap new, under-sized, under-equipped hospital must be spent on the two hospitals to provide a better working environment for staff and improved facilities for patients.

“The country cannot cope with any further cuts in beds, and the £11m community hospital model the Trust and CCG want to impose on us (as they already have done in Tewkesbury, Dursley and the North Cotswolds) is a 20-bed building design with scant facilities.

“The Case For Change advanced by the county’s NHS overlords does not stand up to scrutiny, lacks clarity and is merely a smokescreen for asset-stripping. The Dilke and Lydney Hospitals are in desirable locations for developers – but we refuse to consent to our hospital sites being sold off to the highest bidder.

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HOLD artist Louise Penny said: “We refuse to allow our Minor Illness and Injuries Units reduced from two to one, particularly with the increase in sports visitors and population rise when the Severn Bridge tolls end later this year. We will need more beds, and more facilities, not less, and as we fund our public healthcare through our National Insurance we demand full healthcare, not half measures and a feeding frenzy for private profiteers. There is also the knock-on effect of closure of facilities in the Chepstow/ Wye Valley area as well as elsewhere in Gloucestershire, meaning our acute hospitals are struggling to cope, with nowhere else to go for non-acute care, impossibly overburdening our city hospitals. This cannot go on.”

“We will thwart the process of rival land bids for a single new site and the kangaroo court con of a ‘citizens’ jury’ the CCG is proposing. The plan to close our hospitals and replace them with an indequate single facility has been formulated in secret. The general public was not made aware or given a say – and even when we were given a say, we have been ignored. Until the CCG/ NHS reverses its decision or it is quashed in a court of law, we the public will ensure that we can’t be ignored.

“We call on everyone who wants to stop these savage and dangerous cuts in Forest of Dean healthcare to join us in fighting it. Foresters have saved our hospitals before, we can do so again – and we win our battles here!”

* The HOLD campaign will be at the Triangle in Cinderford from 11am to 2pm on Saturday (February 17th) to launch a door-to-door #petitionstorm – which will help ascertain the extent of the majority opposing the closures.

Press Release: HOLD announce plans for Legal Battle against confirmed closure of Forest of Dean’s Community Hospitals

Yesterday (Thursday 25th January 2018) the NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust held two back to back meetings in Coleford in the Forest of Dean to discuss and decide whether the proposal to close the two community hospitals in the Forest of Dean would go ahead despite the proposal receiving the less than half of the support of the responses to the public consultation.

The meetings begun at 12noon on Thursday despite this time and venue meaning that many people who wanted to attend couldn’t due to work and school. This is just the latest in a series of causes for concern around the adequacy of the entire process.

Zac Arnold, Press Liaison for the HOLD Campaign said “we are very disappointed at the blatant lack of respect that the NHS have showed to the public in ignoring their concerns. Several members of the public asked serious questions regarding various aspects of the consultation at the meeting on Thursday and these questions were met by no satisfactory answers from NHS representatives.”

This decision to continue with the proposals despite the public not backing the decision has been met by an announcement from the HOLD campaign who have stated that a crowd funding page to raise the funds for court and solicitor fees will be set up within the next few days as plans for legal challenge against the NHS are set in motion.

Arnold continued “As announced on our Facebook page yesterday, the HOLD Campaign have are preparing to launch legal action against the NHS in regards to these proposals and we have a line up of very strong legal challenges that the NHS will have to answer to. The fight is not over and we will be launching our crowd funding page to raise the funds for legal action within the next few days.”

Owen Adams, another of the campaign’s organisers stated yesterday on their Facebook page “As feared, the proposal to shut our 2 hospitals was agreed by the NHS/ privatisation overlords. So now our legal fight begins and we have a number of strong legal challenges. We will soon be launching a crowdfunder through a recognised platform, so watch this space!”

Further plans for legal action will be announced as they become available but the action in question has been confirmed as being a Judicial Review. If you would like to donate towards the funds needed to take legal action, a crowd funding page will be set up and connected to the campaign’s Facebook page in the coming days.

Press Release: Backlash after Town Councillors vote to close our hospitals.

On Tuesday 9th January 2018 protesters gathered in the car park of the Belle Vue Centre in Cinderford in a display of anger and upset at the decision of Cinderford Town Council to support the ‘preferred option’ of the NHS to close Lydney and District Hospital and the Dilke Memorial Hospital and replace them with a single, smaller, new hospital. 

Cinderford Town Council voted in November 2017 to support the ‘preferred option’ as set out in the public consultation document and after the full council meeting and protest in December were postponed due to heavy snow, the time finally came for the public to tell their councillors how they felt about their decision.

The protest begun at 6:30pm prior to the meeting starting at 7pm with a great turnout of around 35-40 members of the public attending to stand up to their elected representatives. Once the meeting began, members of the public entered the council chamber and were allowed 3 minutes each to speak for a total time of 15 minutes for public questions.

One protester asked “the projected cost to build this new hospital is £11 million, is that correct?” which was met by a response of “no idea” from many of the town councillors. This shows that they were not in the position to make an informed decision and raises the question, ‘did they ever read the consultation document?’ as within said document it mentioned repeatedly that the projected cost was £11 million.

Cllr Lynn Sterry, the Chair of Cinderford Town Council repeatedly threatened to shut the meeting down and refused to answer questions on topics such as the controversial Northern United site, which is the location that the council proposed for the new hospital to be built in their letter to the GCCG and GCS. The attempts to silence opposition, if anything, made the public dissatisfaction stronger as people felt more and more like their elected representatives were not representatives at all.

Zac Arnold, Press Liaison for the HOLD Campaign said “we are here tonight to express our disappointment at the decision of the council to back the ‘preferred option’ to close our community hospitals and replace them with a single, smaller, new hospital and urge them to listen to the public who stated clearly in the consultation that they are not convinced by the image of a shiny new hospital presented to them by the NHS.”

Around 20 Cinderford Parish residents attended to express their concerns and were met with little acknowledgement of these and a persistent dismissal of the issues they raised.

After Cllr Sterry declared the session had ended early during the public engagement session, Cllr Mark Turner (Independent) argued against the chair to ensure that the voices of the residents were heard. This resulted in the meeting continuing.

Arnold stated that he thought “the protest has been a success. The aim was to ensure that the public are listened to, and although the councillors refused to back down on their stance, a clear message has been sent that they are being watched by their residents now and the people of Cinderford will no longer sit in silence.”

” Unfortunately both Coleford and Lydney Town Councils have also backed the ‘preferred option’ in the consultation and despite them not being called out yet, they have not slipped off the hook. The will of the people will be heard, and our elected representatives will learn to represent. ”

” I would also like to clarify that these protests are not down to the HOLD campaign not respecting differing opinions, this is due to the blatant influencing of the decision making process and the fact that all three councils have suggested possible sites to the NHS. This is about health care for the entire Forest of Dean, this is not a tug of war competition between councils to see who can get the better deal. The lack of consideration for the rest of the Forest by these councillors upsets us and it must change. ”

No details are confirmed as to HOLD’s upcoming plans for the other two Town councils.

 

Press Statement: HOLD respond to today’s letter from Councillor in The Forester.

Please find below the response from the HOLD team to a letter published in The Forester Newspaper today from a District Councillor. This statement is from the HOLD Campaign and quotes should be attributed to the HOLD Campaign rather than any individual. 

“HOLD’s aim has been misrepresented by a councillor on The Forester’s letters page. HOLD is not only demanding the NHS Trust drops its proposal and takes heed of the result of the consultation – that a majority has failed to back the proposal to close our two hospitals and replacing them with one with half the number of beds. We also insist that the £11m and more is invested in the Dilke and Lydney Hospitals. To form a valid opinion, it helps to know the facts.”