Thursday, September 21, 2006

Meanwhile in Shropshire

There is an interesting story in my favourite newspaper:

A radical new plan for Ludlow’s under-threat community hospital to increase services and opt out of NHS control will be unveiled on Thursday.

Independent consultants will tell civic leaders that their plan represents the best way forward for the under-fire site.

The hospital could soon lose two of its wards as part of a cost-cutting scheme by Shropshire’s Primary Care Trust.

One of the wards provides care for elderly and mentally infirm residents.

The hospital would be run by an independent community trust comprised of local residents, civic leaders and health bosses.

The new trust would then sell services back to the PCT, which would make sure the hospital was meeting standards set by the Government.
The instinctive reaction of any Liberal or socialist is to defend the National Health Service. But I should not be surprised if we see more plans like this in coming years. The pressure for more centralisation and more machines that go ping! seems unending.

We have a similar problem in Market Harborough. If I gave got my local history right, the town's cottage hospital was built by the people of the town as a memorial to the fallen of the First World War. It was taken over by the state when the National Health Service was formed.

When I was a district councillor in the 1980s (I was only 14 when I was elected) we fought and lost a campaign to keep a maternity ward at the cottage hospital. Now other wards are being closed as a temporary measure - we shall see how temporary that turns out to be.

In the long term the cottage hospital will be replaced by new provision on a site on the outskirts of the town.

In other words it will have been nationalised and closed. If the National Health Service cannot accommodate local initiative it will become increasingly bureaucratic and unpopular.

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