Slash and burn mentality

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Ilkeston Community Hospital has served Ilkeston and district for the last 25 or so years.

It has proved to be a much-needed and valuable facility offering a wide range of vital services. These include elderly persons care, routine operations and laser eye surgery, ie cataract removal. It also boasts an excellent minor injuries unit, and presently a GP walk-in centre which unfortunately is due to close. Let’s deal with these issues in turn.

Elderly persons care. This facility, far from being run down as is the intention at the moment, should be expanded. People are living longer which is good, however when one gets really old chances are some sort of regular care is required. Instead of closing wards and shedding beds, the reverse should be the case. I attended a public meeting some weeks ago and it was clear that the intention is to rely more and more on care in the community.

The powers-that-be are burying their heads in the sand and pretending care in the community is a one-size-fits-all solution.

This is absolute nonsense, I know I have had first hand experience with my mother-in-law. Not in Derbyshire, I hasten to add, but in Nottingham.

She was initially offered 45 minutes of care once a day, although she was infirm and unable to do most things for herself after a series of strokes. My wife and I almost managed to secure residential care for her but she sadly died before it could be taken up. An abject lesson of care in the community certainly not being for everyone as is the intention at Ilkeston. This was shouted loudly and clearly by administrative staff who presided over the meeting.

Routine operations. There is no doubt about it, being able to go into hospital locally for such operations makes absolute sense. Many of the patients who undergo such surgery are nowadays able to return home after a few hours’ rest.

A few people however suffer a bad reaction from perhaps the anaesthetic or the surgery itself. Should many more beds be closed at Ilkeston hospital, then patients who are unlucky enough to have to stay in hospital overnight may not be able to do so in Ilkeston. Instead they may have to be transferred to either Nottingham or Derby which would be costly and traumatic to many patients.

Laser eye surgery. This type of surgery has improved dramatically in recent years and has been nothing short of a miracle to many elderly people with failing eyesight.

The deliberate decline of Ilkeston Community Hospital however could seriously compromise the continuation of this much-needed service.

Minor injuries. Ilkeston’s Minor Injuries Unit is excellent, it is able to treat almost all of the problems people have who attend there. I have attended myself on a couple of occasions and found the treatment and degree of professionalism shown by the staff to be second-to-none. I hope the closure of the walk-in centre doesn’t compromise this service. I have an awful feeling however that in time, it will. When slash and burn mentality takes hold nothing is safe.

GP walk-in centre. Finally the closure of the GP walk-in centre is nothing short of madness. It has a total of 1,548 patients who are registered there. Known as the Ilkeston Family Practice it opened in 2009 and since then has been a resounding success,

Many people I talk to on a daily basis in my capacity as a local councillor tell me so. There will also be 14 job loses as a result, not a very nice Christmas present for them. It really does look like this Government’s wanton slash and burn policies are coming home here to Ilkeston – and believe you me they will take some fending off and do untold damage in the mean time. I hope I have demonstrated that all the issues I have raised in this letter do not exist in isolation but are intrinsically linked. The headlines in this week’s Advertiser about the walk-in centre are but one of many negative steps that could prove the death knell of our much-loved and needed community hospital.

Cllr John Frudd

Kirk Hallam councillor