We write in response to the report by local NHS leaders printed in the Mercury’s letters page last Saturday (‘Setting the record straight or n hospitals proposals’, November 7).
NHS bosses say they want to “set the record straight” on the claim that they “have not considered Covid-19” when thinking about the £450million reorganisation of our local hospitals.
Yet it is a statement of fact that, outside the consultation questionnaire, the remaining 1500+ pages of the pre-consultation business case (the detailed plan and justification for the hospital reorganisation) makes no reference to Covid-19 and pandemic preparedness.
The Leicester Mercury Patients Panel has produced an excellent briefing paper which argues that the proposals for reorganising our hospital services need to be revised to incorporate the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The paper draws on the chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, who has suggested that new hospital designs need to reflect, amongst other things:
- More convertible space to allow clinical areas to be moved or re-equipped to much higher specifications without major building work;
- Generous room size specifications (or “loose fit”) and adaptable spaces where the design of rooms can accommodate multiple functions and change of use;
- Ordinary inpatient rooms which have been designed so they can be converted to critical care rooms with enough space for complex equipment and access to extra power;*
- Outpatient departments which may be smaller and more orientated towards procedures on the one hand but with more well-equipped spaces to do remote consultations on the other.
(Access the full LMPP report here: https://dora.dmu.ac.uk/handle/2086/20284 )
The letter from NHS leaders goes on to say that now is not the time to “shelve plans and hunker down” because they have learned so much “in planning for, and dealing with, the impact of the first wave.”
They seem to ignore the fact that many of public they claim to be consulting are being forced to “hunker down” due to a second spike in infections. It is hardly surprising then that so few people even know about their plans.
But importantly, how could any of lessons from the pandemic really been learned if the plan to reorganise our hospitals was submitted in January 2020, i.e. before the lessons of the pandemic could begin to be explored, and not updated since then?
As health campaigners and service users, we are extremely concerned that we are being rushed into a plan that could adversely effect the future of our hospital services at a time when the public is distracted by a national public health crisis.
Leicester General Hospital and St Mary’s Birth Centre are both under threat of closure. Come to the Save Our NHS Leicestershire online public meeting on Saturday November 21 at 2pm to hear more about the improvements that we are fighting for. Register on this link: https://cutt.ly/SONHSL or contact 07896 841 902 for more information.