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.

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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.”

 

Press Release: Campaigners demand that the NHS scraps plans to close hospitals.

On Tuesday 9th January 2018 campaigners took to the steps of Shire Hall in Gloucester to demand that NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust scrap their plans to close two community hospitals and replace them with one single, smaller, new hospital after 46% of consultation responses oppose the “preferred option” and 12% of respondents did not know.

At 9am, protesters assembled on the steps of the County Council Offices at Shire Hall in Gloucester to demand that the NHS respect the will of the people and scrap their plans to push forward their ‘preferred option’ of closing two community hospitals and replacing them with one. This comes after the report on the outcome of the public consultation was published on Monday revealing that 58% of respondents were either against the proposals or were not sure.

Zac Arnold, one of the protests organisers, said “The consultation carried out has delivered a clear message, the people of the Forest of Dean are not convinced by the picture of a shiny new hospital as it is portrayed by GCCG and GCS. The Forest has stood up time and time again and we will continue to fight until the NHS takes public feedback on-board and scraps their proposals to close our hospitals.”

The protest concluded at 10am when the campaigners entered the council chamber to hear the outcome of the consultation as it was presented to the Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Once the meeting had concluded campaigners reflected with anger and disappointment as the committee decided to vote in favour of declaring the consultation ‘adequate.’

Arnold said “This is a disappointing result as the consultation process was clearly flawed in many ways. Just to name one example, if you look at the original consultation booklet and compare it to the easy read version, the questions in places are completely different. As far as I am concerned, the committee has completely failed in it’s duty today by accepting an incredibly inadequate consultation as adequate.”

The example of the differing questions is just one of many flaws, another example is the blatantly misleading content of some parts of the document. The booklet claims that a new facility will improve the recruitment and retention of staff, however, according to the NHS’ own figures, Tewksbury Community Hospital (a new hospital) has significantly worse levels of recruitment and retention than the Dilke Memorial Hospital.

Owen Adams, another one of the protests organisers said “The majority of people have said ‘no’ to the proposal to close the hospitals, so we will be demanding that the CCG and the NHS Trust listens to the people. We demand instead that the £11 million earmarked for the building of a new hospital is invested in the two current sites.”

This protest was just the first part of a day of protest organised by the HOLD (Hands Off Lydney and Dilke hospitals) Campaign who held a second demonstration outside the Full Council meeting of Cinderford Town Council in the evening to express their concern at the council’s decision to back the NHS’ preferred option in the consultation.