Today, the Trusts considered a Consultation report on the proposals for Andover Hospital. This was done at a public meeting in Andover, which I could not attend as I was at Westminster.
These are my initial comments.
I welcome the decision to look again at the alternative proposals for the building, put forward during the consultation period. I suspect that the Trusts were taken aback by the strength of feeling they encountered, and I hope this additional time will enable them to produce plans which are more detailed than those we have seen so far. It is quite difficult to envisage how all the services and parking will fit on the site without a plan showing where everything will be.
I welcome the assurance that, whatever happens, there will be a modernised outpatient department - hopefully in a new building and not where it is at the moment.
I agree that the consultation was thorough and there were many opportunities for local people to make their views known.
On the other hand, little progress has been made in tackling the problems of transport between Andover and Winchester. "We are working with our local partners..." We "have no legal responsibility...to provide patient transportation services"
There is no hint as to who will pay for the extra services that are needed. Without firm proposals for improvement, I doubt if Andover people will buy the package.
The authors of the paper appear to believe that, if the elderly population grows faster than they forecast, this can be met exclusively by community care (4.8), whereas I believe extra hospital facilities would also be necessary.
Then we are going to lose all general anaesthetic procedures to Winchester, with no guarantee that any other procedures will move from Winchester to Andover. It is this "one-way" traffic that concerns me more than anything else - a progressive transfer of services to Winchester, instead of a more balanced approach, moving the centre of gravity to Andover not away from it. Whatever happens, the general anaesthetic procedures will go. We are told that "we anticipate" developing the Andover Day Unit - but there is no guarantee.
I still feel that the exercise is driven by the need to make economies rather than provide locally the mix of quality services that Andover needs.