Heatherwood campaigners urge public to be heardBy Hugh Fort
August 28, 2012
Campaigners are urging as many people as possible to give their views to doctors as the fight to keep well-used services at Heatherwood Hospital reaches its most ‘serious and decisive phase’.
Members of the Save Heatherwood Hospital campaign are stepping up their fight to keep as many services as possible at the hospital in London Road, Ascot, before the Shaping the Future consultation is launched in October.
The group is already one of 300 healthcare groups to reply to a pre-consultation prior to the main poll and is now gearing up for the full response in October.
The campaigners are urging bosses at the cash-strapped Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust not to move many of its services elsewhere.
They have already scored one victory after bosses promised the hospital would not close altogether in May. However, chief executive Philippa Slinger has stated the board will look for private investment into the hospital.
The group is made up of smaller campaign groups from Bracknell, Windsor, Ascot and Slough.
The campaign is supported by Bracknell-based Defend Our Community Services (DOCS), whose chairman Terry Pearce said: “DOCS is proud to be part of the campaign that helped to stop NHS Berkshire and the hospital trust bosses from closing Heatherwood Hospital and selling off the site.
“However, we are unhappy with the plan to remove many well-used services from the site, leaving only a surgical unit catering for operations such as knees and hips.
“We oppose plans to remove from the site the successful Minor Injuries Unit, Rehabilitation, Birth Centre etc.
“We campaigned for a hospital on the Heatherwood site, not to see well supported and appreciated services removed and scattered around the area, some of them further from Bracknell or situated in locations more difficult to access.”
Spike Humphrey from Ascot Community Action Group for Heatherwood (ACAG), said: “The campaign to save Heatherwood Hospital and its services is entering its most serious and decisive phase.
“A major concession to retain some kind of NHS health service provision on the site has been won thanks to the force of public opinion.
“But the question now is whether we are left with a small surgical unit only, or do we retain the broad range of services currently provided by Heatherwood to the wide community it serves across East Berkshire?”
“We ask everyone to speak to or write to their own GP, to make sure the GPs are in no doubt about the wide public support for retaining and improving services at Heatherwood.
“People can contact their GPs ahead of and during the promised full consultation as it begins in the late autumn.”