Meeting over hospital 'privatisation'

PUBLISHED: 09:44 28 June 2013

Weston Hospital.

Weston Hospital.

Archant

CAMPAIGN groups will meet this weekend to publicly discuss the perceived 'privatisation' of Weston General Hospital.

Unison South West, the town’s Labour party and the newly-formed Keep our NHS Public group are urging the public to hear them talk about the hospital’s future.

Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) last month advertised its need for a new partner to secure its future, prompting concerns over the potential impact on patient care.

Options include joining forces with a neighbouring NHS trust – and sharing services – or welcoming a private firm to run parts of the hospital.

WAHT bosses have repeatedly said the Grange Road site will remain the home of NHS staff, services and patients, regardless of its decision. Similarly assets of the trust will remain within the NHS.

But Weston Football Club in Winterstoke Road will host a public meeting on Saturday as several groups remain unconvinced.

Kelvin MacDonald Fraser, leader of Keep our NHS Public, said: “What local people need to realise is that putting Weston General Hospital ‘up for sale’, is just the start of a process which, unless we challenge it, will lead to us losing more and more local services, and having to travel to Bristol or Taunton for the treatment and care which is currently available here.”

He said if a private company gets involved in the day-to-day running of the hospital then profit will come before patients.

The meeting, coming a fortnight after the Care Quality Commission called for more nurses to be employed following a highly-critical report, and Cllr Catherine Gibbons said the hospital’s ‘impossible financial situation’ was having an effect.

The trust has lost £5million worth of funding each year since North Somerset Primary Care Trust was switched to a care commissioning group in April.

Christina Cook, Unison’s regional organiser, added: “This event is a key part of our campaign against the privatisation of Weston General Hospital.

“We want everyone to understand that the threat of a private company taking over the running of the hospital is real and this is bad news for staff, patients and the local community.”

The meeting will run from 10am-2pm with speeches starting at noon.

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