Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15182
Campaign to save Kirkby hospital
A fight is on to save a small community hospital in the ex-mining town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.
Its walk-in centre - visited by 15,000 people a year - has moved to the Kings Mill district general hospital in Mansfield.
Now its four wards will be moved to other hospitals if the Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) plans go through.
What will be the future for Kirkby hospital? How long will it be before there is another plan to move more services out - with a claim that the cost of maintaining the site is too much?
Most of the patients are elderly, and it's usually much easier for their partners, families and friends to visit them there than paying exorbitant parking fees or bus fares.
One woman told Socialist Party campaigners that she spent £39 on parking when visiting her husband at Kings Mill for an hour a day over 11 days.
The CCG claims that patients will be better cared for at other sites. Although this might be the case for the stroke rehabilitation ward, there is lots of evidence that many elderly patients do better in small local rather than large general hospitals.
Specialist services and staff are required but these can and should be provided in community hospitals like Kirkby.
Patients too ill to be nursed at home but who don't need all the facilities at Kings Mill should be looked after in their local community.
If there really is evidence that stroke rehabilitation patients would be better served by being in the district general hospital, then other suitable in-patient care could be moved to Kirkby in replacement.
Worst hospital cuts
Behind these moves looms a shocking new round of hospital cuts. The Financial Times (22nd August) reported that Sherwood Forest hospitals (Kings Mill, Mansfield Community and Newark) face the worst cuts in England, along with Basildon and Thurrock in Essex - a 13% drop in income over the next three years.
Because of PFI, Sherwood Forest hospitals must pay Skanska and other profit-making companies nearly £1.6 billion for buildings that cost £326 million.
The debt payments go out before a penny is spent on health staff or patient care. Over 200 jobs are now being axed at Kings Mill.
Moving patients to the PFI hospitals from Kirkby will help maintain this transfusion out of NHS funds into the bank accounts of big business.
Over 700 people have signed the Socialist Party petition to save Kirkby hospital over the past few weeks, showing the strength of local feeling. 100 marched to a 'consultation' meeting at the Summit Centre a few weeks ago, where nearly all who spoke opposed the plan.
The 'consultation' finishes on 9th September so the Socialist Party has organised a demonstration on Saturday 8th September, assembling 11am at Harold Larwood statue, Kirkby.