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Different views shared on what's happening at Ellen Badger Hospital, Shipston

REVISED plans for healthcare provision in Shipston have meant that the town’s anticipated new hospital has been put on hold.

Since June, when the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust’s proposals were welcomed by the community, the trust has revised its proposals into a two-phase scheme. While a GP surgery and wellbeing centre looks set to be built on the existing Ellen Badger site, the hospital has been put on ice.

As the Herald has reported previously, the League of Friends of Shipston Hospital, which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over 20 years to help make the new hospital a reality, was devastated.

Meanwhile, SWFT says it is committed to enhancing the healthcare offering, but warns that without the support of the local community, it may need to reflect further on its plans.

Here SWFT and the League of Friends give their responses to key questions put to them by the Herald.

SWFT chief executive Glen Burley (44001795)
SWFT chief executive Glen Burley (44001795)

Why has there been a backtrack on the hospital?

SWFT: A hospital is more than beds and this first phase is part of developing a modern community hospital. There are a number of reasons we have decided to phase the development, including access to funding, review of services post-Covid and deliverability so services can run during development.

LoF: Because although SWFT say a single phase would be £1.75m cheaper and 18 months quicker, they have discovered – after over three years of site surveys, architects’ plans and many, many meetings – they haven’t got enough money to do it.

If the project is now in two phases, why not build the hospital first?

SWFT: It is vital that we move towards integrating our community services with primary care services to support people to stay well within their own community and this has been agreed as the first phase. There is national funding to support this for south Warwickshire and we plan to spend this in Shipston.

LoF: Because the medical centre is paid for by a separate organisation, the South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group, not SWFT.

The GP surgery in Shipston already has a base. Why spend NHS money giving a new home to what is essentially a private business?

SWFT: It is really important to be clear that no NHS funding is being used to develop the new GP practice. It is well known that the increase in population means the GP practice is too small to accommodate this growth and a bigger, accessible development is required.

There was also an options appraisal that the local community took part in to decide the best location for the practice and the Ellen Badger site was preferred.

LoF: It is, of course, NHS money, just not SWFT’s money. The “cost/rent” scheme which pays for the interest on loans to build surgeries becomes a rent paid to the partners to eventually pay off the capital – complicated, but a well-established means of developing extensions and new builds. GPs, like opticians, pharmacists and dentists, are all contracted to the NHS, though with different systems of funding.

What would SWFT say to Shipston people who had pinned their hopes on a hospital rebuild and resurrecting services such as cancer treatment locally?

SWFT: The trust has two fantastic facilities to treat cancer patients at Warwick and Stratford. Part of developing the service at Stratford was to make it more accessible to people living in the very south of Warwickshire.

The development will look at how we use technology and new models of care to keep people well within their local community. National policy, sustainability of services with regards to staffing, safety of services for patients are all key determinants in how we deliver care equally across the whole of south Warwickshire.

LoF: We think after three years – allowing residents to think as late as August 2020 that we would be getting the kind of provision to be found in Moreton-in-Marsh, a town much smaller than Shipston – an apology is called for. As a much-loved retired Shipston GP reiterates on signing our petition: “The current building is not fit for purpose.”

The League of Friends is not “working against the trust” as SWFT’s chief executive claims. On the contrary, the league are trying to help SWFT deliver on promises which they were making up until last summer.

SWFT should enrol the help of local MPs, councillors and public representatives to deliver that which SWFT, the league and local residents all agreed is needed now.

  • SWFT is asking residents in the Shipston area to submit their views to a “healthwatch” survey - find it here.

The League of Friends has launched a Save Our Ellen Badger Hospital campaign and is inviting people to sign its petition and comment via www.change.org

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