Campaign group appeals to Bristol NHS trust to save town's hospital

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 September 2013

Weston General Hospital

Weston General Hospital

Archant

MEMBERS of the Save Weston Hospital campaign are calling on Bristol hospital bosses to step in and save it from being bought by a private company.

Weston General Hospital will be under new commissioning management by 2015. Five private companies, four NHS trusts and three social enterprise community interest companies have already signalled their interest in becoming hospital partners.

The Save Weston Hospital group is urging University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust to ensure its bid is strong enough to prevent a private company taking over.

Campaign group chairman Steve Timmins said: “We are concerned that if a private company takes over, there will be no control or choice for patient care. They are just buying into the NHS brand.

“Weston hospital campaign group wants Bristol, or another NHS trust, to take over. Community interest companies can be bought by private companies, and private groups are run by profit.

“People are customers of a company by choice, but if you fall ill as a patient you don’t have a choice.

“We believe Bristol hospitals’ foundation trust can serve the community. We do not believe a private company can ever have that kind of relationship because they serve the shareholders.”

Retired doctor Richard Lawson, of Churchill, said: “We wish to represent the needs of the people against privatisation of the hospital. The area is under-funded, £5million in debt and short of beds per person.

“If you go to a private company, you are putting people in the hands of someone who has to answer primarily to its shareholders.

“Bristol is the most sensible choice and the closest.”

North Somerset Council’s Unison representative Helen Thornton, who helps to co-ordinate the campaign group, said: “Not only are there not enough beds per person, but the problem is they can’t run the hospital on the money they are getting.

“How is a private company going to be able to do it and turn over enough profit? They will cut services and cut staff.”

The campaign group also has concerns about departments closing if private firms take over the running of the hospital.

Dr Lawson said: “If we have a smaller A&E and something really blows up, we haven’t got the specialist care groups to come in and sort it. We need the full range of departments.

“If it keeps going this way hospitals will keep closing until there is just one big super hospital somewhere like Manchester. We are sympathetic about all the problems in the NHS and there is no one magic solution but when we see what is happening here, we have clear objectives in seeing Weston taken over by an NHS foundation.

“As a GP I would like to see Weston come together as a community to support its health service.”

The campaign group is also asking the people of the town to come forward with their thoughts and concerns. The group will meet on September 10 at the Working Men’s Club in Orchard Street at 7pm.

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