MP's "super-hospital" plan under microscopeBy Hugh Fort
July 30, 2012
THE people of Bracknell have been urged to get behind the borough MP’s plans for a super-hospital – but some remain sceptical of the ambitious project.
Dr Phillip Lee’s bold plans for the hospital, which he wants to be situated close to Junction 8/9 of the M4 motorway near Maidenhead, were discussed at a meeting on Tuesday.
Dr Lee’s proposals come as he feels a number of the hospitals currently serving Bracknell, like Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot and The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, are not fit for purpose.
His aim is to provide a state-of-the art facility for as many people as possible.
Dr Lee makes no secret the plan is hugely ambitious and would need to be funded by the closure and sale of both Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals.
After presenting the plans, he took questions from the audience of around 50 people.
One man raised concerns about transport, saying if the M4 was closed because of an accident, then people travelling to the hospital would be ‘totally stuck’.
Dr Lee pointed out people already travel on the motorway to Wexham Park, but admitted there would have to be ‘major improvements’ to transport, including regular buses and, ideally, a helicopter pad for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.
Many people in the audience argued Heatherwood was a valuable asset and put it to Dr Lee that as Bracknell’s MP, he should be doing more to save it.
Dr Lee said it would be an ‘easy vote winner’ to pledge his support for Heatherwood, but said he ‘genuinely believed’ the new hospital would benefit more people.
He said: “Heatherwood needs to close. It has assets and value, as it is opposite Ascot Racecourse and close to the station.
“To have surgery at Heatherwood, you still have to be wheeled outside, underneath a cover, to get to the unit. This is unbelievable.”
Another woman, who worked as a nurse, admitted she was initially sceptical of the plans.
She said: “I’ve had two times in my life where I’ve needed complex care. Each time I travelled further because I wanted to ensure I was treated by the best people.
“I think it would be the same here. I think it’s a great idea.”
John Barlow, who is part of the Save Our Hospital group in Marlow and has been battling to preserve services at Wycombe Hospital, said: “I am a card-carrying member of the Labour Party, but I fully support this idea.
“What it needs is public support, a group of people to come forward to push this.”
For Dr Lee’s full report, visit www.phillip-lee.com