Fundraisers and South Warwickshire NHS bosses fallout over plans for Ellen Badger site
FUNDRAISERS and NHS bosses remain at loggerheads over the vision for the redevelopment of a community hospital.
And the arguments over the future of the Ellen Badger Hospital site at Shipston-on-Stour have even reached the point of debating what counts as a hospital.
At a board meeting of the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust last week, chief executive Glen Burley voiced his frustration that the fundraising group the Ellen Badger League of Friends had not got on board with the revised project proposals.
He said: “It is a frustrating situation that we’ve got into. We approved a business case earlier in the year to invest in Ellen Badger but it has not been so well received by the League of Friends, who have commenced a campaign including a petition named ‘Save the Ellen Badger’ and what it is describing is a threat to the future of the hospital which isn’t real.
“Sadly, a lot of the people who have signed it are under the misapprehension that the hospital is under threat, which is disappointing.”
As the Herald has reported, relations between the trust and the Friends began to sour when the initial proposal for the site changed from one to two phases. During phase one – which is due to start later this year – the old hospital would be demolished and a medical and wellbeing centre would be built, incorporating a new GP practice.
Fundraisers believe that consigning the proposed new hospital to the second phase puts it at risk of not happening and they say that is why they launched the petition, which has more than 2,000 signatures.
However, to complicate the situation even further, during the board meeting Mr Burley suggested that SWFT’s plans included a kind of hospital.
He said: “We are proposing a two-phase project – which is also bringing the GP practice on to site – we are creating 100 rooms, 27,545.07 sq ft.
“It will create a hospital and what the League of Friends are slightly confused by is the word hospital, which for us is about a premises from which we deliver healthcare.
“It’s not necessarily about providing beds, although there’s a review under way across the system to determine how many beds we need in the future. But as we did with Stratford Hospital, we created a fantastic ambulatory hospital with not a bed in it. The future for hospitals is to keep people at home and not keep people in beds.”
Ambulatory care or outpatient care is medical care provided on an outpatient basis, however Stratford Hospital has 25 beds in its Nicol Unit, so it is not clear exactly what is being referred to.
Mr Burley continued: “The League of Friends don’t want to support this part of the project but we would hope that if phase two commences, that is something that they might want to support us on as they are Friends of the hospital.”
Bryan Stoten, of the League of Friends, hit back at the notion of an “ambulatory hospital”, saying: “It is an oxymoronic idea. An ambulatory hospital is, in other words, an outpatient clinic or a minor injuries unit – one of which SWFT closed at the Badger only a few years ago because they claimed there was no demand.
“A scanner bought by the Friends ten years ago for £85,000 has just been sold to a vet in Norfolk since it lay unused because SWFT could never find a radioographer to staff it, and X-ray has now long gone to Stratford.”
Mr Stoten also addressed the issue of committing charity money to phase one of the project: “We never offered to fund the ‘first phase’ since it is largely a GP practice, the charitable funding of which would be against charity law.”