Letters to the Editor, June 19, 2014

PUBLISHED: 12:47 20 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:47 20 June 2014

Archant

WE SHOULD all breathe a sigh of relief at the welcome news that Weston General Hospital is no longer at risk of being handed over as a ‘franchise’ to some profit-driven, private health corporation.

However, the Protect Our NHS campaign is not going to down tools. If the Conservatives win an outright majority in Parliament next year, they are almost certain to try to raise the spectre of privatisation again, if for no other reason that so many of their Ministers hold shares in health corporations.

Weston hospital will be partnered with a bigger outfit, maybe United Bristol Hospitals or Taunton, but the basic problems of under-funding and an inadequate bed ratio will remain.

We all need to play our part in helping local health services, especially the hard-pressed A&E department.

People need to understand that antibiotics are not necessary for most coughs and colds; GPs need to look at their appointments systems, and hospital managers need to ask their staff for suggestions to improve the service and make it more efficient.

There are a vast number of ways that things could be improved, and this narrow escape from privatisation should make us all more aware of how awful life would be without the NHS.

DR RICHARD LAWSON

(Retired GP)

Dolberrow, Winscombe

I WAS pleased to read that it has been decided not to involve a private company in the running of Weston General Hospital.

However I have some concerns about which NHS Trust might be the ultimate chosen partner for Weston General.

In my experience, patients in North Somerset are either treated at Weston General or at one of the Bristol hospitals, which would make an association with University Hospitals Bristol Trust the sensible option to choose.

However, you report that Taunton and Yeovil Hospital Trusts have expressed an interest in forming an association with Weston General.

I would like to know what impact an association with either of those Trusts will have on patients. Where will patients be expected to go in order to receive treatment not provided at Weston? Will we still be sent to hospitals in Bristol or will patients from North Somerset be expected to travel to Taunton or Yeovil?

Since it is patients who will be on the receiving end of whatever decision is made, complete transparency of that decision making process and its effects on and consequences for patients, is essential.

TIM VICKERY

Wakedean Gardens, Yatton

HAVING been part of the Protect Our NHS group for the last year I am glad that it looks like the hospital will stay within the NHS.

Our group of passionate people have been in the media, highlighting our concerns and putting some pressure on to get this outcome, so we are all very pleased with this news as reported in the Mercury last week which showcased our leads Steve Timmins and Dr Richard Lawson.

We all worked together irrespective of political differences but to me the main credit must go to the staff at the hospital, so I personally would like to thank the staff and all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the last year.

Although our group had a part to play in this outcome, it was these people who continued to work hard under the threat of privatisation (despite personal pay, work, staffing and other issues) who are the real heroes in Weston in the fight against NHS privatisation.

If you would like to support the group who will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months please drop an email to protectournhs@gmail.com Everybody is welcome.

RACHEL LING

@LocalRachel

Osborne Road, Weston

I WAS very pleased to read in last week’s Mercury about the future of Weston General Hospital.

I had signed the petition myself and also know some of the people involved in the campaign, so I was rather surprised to read the letter from a prospective parliamentary candidate which seemed to be giving all the credit to the Labour party.

I am confused – is Labour running a separate campaign? Wouldn’t a united and non-political effort be more appropriate for this particular local issue? In fact, wouldn’t this approach be best for every local issue anyway? Don’t party politics just get in the way, as they tend to divide people rather than unite them in solving problems?

J HAY

Goddard Drive, Worle

WELL done Weston General Hospital. In these times when the NHS hospitals are coming under fire and you happen to be on the high age ladder, I really must give a very big thank you to the A&E department and the day case unit.

From the time I booked in until I left after an emergency operation everyone that I met – nurses, doctors, the surgeon and operating theatre staff were all kind, patient and very caring.

This kind of care helped my day spent at Weston hospital immensely.

From one very satisfied patient.

WENDY LOWE

The Swallows, Locking Castle

ON MARCH 17 I attended a pre-op assessment with a view to having hip replacement surgery at Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre.

During this process an electro cardiogram was applied, which revealed a slight abnormality. The surgery was then put on hold by the anaesthetist pending further clarification.

Emersons Green immediately referred me back to my surgery. They in turn were also quick to contact Weston hospital. At this point everything came to a standstill. It took a further nine weeks to organise an echo cardiogram as requested by the treatment centre and not without me pushing and pushing, including addressing a personal letter to the CEO, in an attempt to speed up matters.

During this long period since March 17 ie three and a half months I have been in almost constant acute pain.

I am sure you receive hundreds of letters complaining about the complacency and sheer inefficiency of Weston hospital, well add this one to the tally.

My one hope is that I will never have to have dealings with them ever again.

MR M BARCLAY

Clevedon Road, Weston

WELL, well, well another lottery funding awarded to Clevedon, this time in the shape of the pool on the Salthouse side of the beach to the tune of £800,000.

This, on top of the awards for its ‘historic pier’. Meanwhile, the people of Weston have had to fight tooth and nail to keep the dream alive for the Tropicana and Birnbeck just continues to fall into the sea.

We shouldn’t be too surprised really, as most of the North Somerset councillors are not from Weston, anyway. Oh, and the North Somerset HQ is based in Clevedon, where there’s no charge to park on the roads or outside your own house. The same applies to Portishead, Nailsea, and all the other places that these supposed representatives of the whole of North Somerset come from.

It’s so blatantly obvious to all those with half a brain cell that these people are only interested in squeezing as much as they can out of Weston whilst watching the heart of the town gradually being killed off.

Empty shops, empty spaces, empty words and empty promises. Coffee shops and charity shops don’t fulfil the requirements of the people living in this town but which major retail outlet is going to open up when the Dolphin Square eyesore remains looking like something the Luftwaffe left behind? It seems there’s no plan B, C, D or even X – was there ever a solid plan A?

KEVIN EVANS

Dunedin Way, St Georges

JUDGING by the photo of smiling faces accompanying ‘Trop team aims to rally support for pool’ last week, a good time was clearly had by all.

But how many of the fresh-faced volunteers or those whose innocent signatures they sought were aware of some of the realities behind Trop Trust’s attempt to revitalise the crumbling seafront site?

For example, the charitable-sounding Trop Trust is not yet a legitimate benevolent body at all, and has still to gain official recognition by the Charities Commission.

Or that the oft-reported £1million grant application from the Whitehall-based Regional Growth Fund is not in its current round of submissions. Instead, the matter is supposedly being evaluated by the lesser West of England Growth Fund. Furthermore, the revised Trop Trust business plan under consideration still includes a £400,000 annual income from car parking, something that cash-strapped North Somerset Council continues to insist is non-negotiable.

Moreover, even if grants are eventually forthcoming (sometimes taking up to two years of harsh scrutiny) there will still be a shortfall of many millions to be found before a single brick is laid.

The more this project is vaguely ‘talked-up’ with empty headlines and no hard evidence, the less likely it seems that Cllr Mead’s breezy Mercury assertion ‘my Trop will open in 2015’ will ever be realised.

IAN PITCH

Church Road, Winscombe

AS A former local government officer I have some sympathy with writers to the Weston Mercury who are fed-up with getting letters addressed to them in Avon, two decades after the death of that county.

This is, of course, entirely the fault of the Royal Mail, so I have a suggestion for action.

Under the 1994 local government reorganisation, the six districts that formed Avon mutated into the four present unitary authorities. Each of these UAs is a district, with a council. But there are four counties of the same name and with the same boundaries, but with no council; instead they have a Lord Lieutenant who if I remember correctly can call the volunteer forces to The Colours, and do various other things on behalf of The Sovereign like handing over gongs.

People aggrieved over the high-handed behaviour of the Royal Mail (though it is now a mere company with shareholders) could petition the Lord Lieutenant about it. I have no idea if this would bring a result, but it would probably bring a different kind of response from the ones routinely written by officers of the council such as I once was.

CHRISTOPHER MAY

Leewood Road, Weston

MARGARET Wood, Ray Armstrong, Christine Pierce and Brian Billingham are suffering under a misapprehension. That is that Avon is a county. It was an administrative county for a while, but it is no longer.

Avon is a modern name for a geographical area, like Mendip, and the Levels, which lies north of the River Axe and includes South Gloucestershire and North East Somerset. A similar example is Wessex (as in the Earl and Countess of Wessex). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name Wessex was coined in 1868 by the Dorset poet the Rev William Barnes.

The fact, that names like Avon and Wessex are modern, does not detract from the reality of what they define.

The official use of Avon for the sake of convenience does not detract from the fact that Weston is in the ceremonial county of Somerset, although not in the administrative county.

Councillor Ray Armstrong and his fellow town councillors would be better engaged in working for Weston and its surrounding villages to be returned to the administrative county of Somerset, since they have more of a shared interest with Sedgemoor and Mendip Districts than with Clevedon, Nailsea, Backwell and Portishead.

The Mercury’s front page headline summed up Weston’s dilemma. It is not only in the area of policing that the town is under resourced. North Somerset Council also under-resources the town in many ways.

Stan Radcliffe is right about returning the so-called Dolphin Square to public use. It has been left as a blot on the town for far too long. Is it to join the open air pool and Birnbeck Pier in festering for years?

ROBERT CRAIG

Priory Road, Weston

AS A Penarth resident, I noticed a poster in the local yacht club calling for financial assistance to re-launch the mv Balmoral for 2015.

She requires approximately £350k to complete her dry dock.

It sounds a lot but surely Weston businesses (and residents) would want to offer what they can in donations? She’s a fine tourist attraction and not only puts us all on the map but brings external visitors to our towns to boost its economy.

Here is the link for people who want to get involved: http://www.heritagesteamers.co.uk/balmoral/

CAROLINE YOUDE

Britten Road, Weston

WE ARE writing to say how much we enjoyed the guided walk around the Anchor Head area of Weston on Sunday, led by Chris Richards of the North Somerset Council Ranger Service.

The walk started at Prince Consort Gardens - which is looking very nice and a big thank you to all at The Friends of Prince Consort Gardens (email address fopcg@yahoo.co.uk) which helps maintain it so well.

On the walk we learned from Chris about Brachiopods in Prince Consort Gardens and the surrounding area, different kinds of seaweed and coastal plants on the shoreline and a whole host of other interesting things. Chris is so knowledgeable and passionate about his subject which is lovely and this brings things to life. For more information on these guided walks please see

http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/News/Pages/Ranger-service-guided-walks.aspx

STEVEN HARRISON AND DEAN HARRIS

Manilla Crescent, Weston

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