'We have been misled - the truth must be told'

Surrey Comet: Static HTML image

The Inside Story

Surrey Comet: Static HTML image By Hannah Summers
Staff at Surbiton hospital have vowed to campaign against its closure, claiming they were misled by the PCT and refused a guarantee by its chief executive that the site would not be sold off.
  A staff member, who asked not to be named for fear of losing her job, said medical staff saw no need to move patients out of the hospital and many supported the Comet’s campaign against the closure.
  She also questioned the PCT’s sudden decision to close the hospital so soon after investing in new facilities. She said: “The truth has to be told. In a meeting we were informed the hospital was to be rebuilt with better facilities. The next thing we know, patients are to be moved out. The staff have been misled.”
  She added that until a few weeks ago there had been no mention of moving patients but now the chief executive of the PCT, Paul Holmes, has told staff he cannot guarantee the land will not be sold.
  She added: “We have launched our own internal petition. We are just so cross that they have spent so much money on the wards just to close them.
  “Just last week they finished installing a new nurse call system that cost thousands of pounds and now they are saying there is no money for repairs.”
  She said: “I agree some upgrading is needed but if they had spent the money in the first place it would not be in this state now.
  “There is some disrepair in the hospital but not on the wards and patients are not at risk. In my opinion they do not need to move them.”

Cash is there - and I know where: MP

With the right financial know-how, Surbiton hospital could be transformed into a state-of the-art service provider for the community.
  So says Edward Davey, the MP for Kingston and Surbiton, who believes that by re-aligning health services in Surbiton, the cash-strapped trust could solve its financial deficit and improve health care facilities in the area.
  He said: “If they use their initiative, we have the investment funds locally, as well as things we can tap into nationally.
  “There are a number of sites they could sell, which don’t produce frontline services and could be used to make the finances work.”
  Mr Davey’s suggestions include selling 22 Hollyfield Road, which has an asset value of £6million, as well as the three large houses, now administrative blocks, adjacent to the hospital site.
  These office services could be re-located to the hospital, perhaps as a second or third storey to the hospital.
  Mr Davey said: “I have a long list of health care services I would want to see there, which would include existing services and more. I am talking about state-of-the-art facilities.”
  Mr Davey’s vision includes more office buildings for the Surbiton community mental health team and a drop-in day care centre.
  The Liberal Democrat MP has met twice now with Paul Holmes, chief executive of the trust, but has not been given a categorical assurance that the hospital will not be sold off.
  He said: “The chief executive has assured me the board has every intention of using the site for health services.
  “This falls short of the assurance I want, but it is a start. What I want is major investment in new and expanded facilities.”
  Mr Davey claims the PCT’s financial crisis would be an inadequate reason for closing the hospital and local and national funding could be made available for the trust.
  An example of such funding is the Lift Scheme, a national plan administered by the strategic health authority that has worked in a number of GP surgeries in the borough and could provide part-funding.
  Mr Davey said: “I will be taking the issue of health services in Surbiton to the House of Commons and will run this campaign until we get full answers and full backing.
  “I don’t just want to keep what we have got, but get something a lot better.”
  Mr Davey was expected to raise these issues yesterday when he met with the Strategic Health Authority of South West London.

Upgrade plans queried as far back as February

The MP for Kingston and Surbiton, Edward Davey complained that the money going to the Kingston Primary Care Trust (KPCT) was insufficient as long ago as February when the Government announced funding for primary care trusts.
  The then secretary for health, Dr John Reid, argued that KPCT, which was allocated the lowest level of increase in the country, had been spending money on up-grading.
  Dr Reid said at the time: “There is a £120,000 project to upgrade the operating theatre at Surbiton hospital in May to increase capacity.”
  Mr Davey questioned the wisdom of such investment, given more recent plans to close patient beds at the hospital. He said: “When I address the issue I will tell the health department that it cannot boast about this money being spent and then not provide the cash to ensure this money is not wasted.”

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