Babington Hospital could close within two years at the latest.
But why should we worry? After all, all of the existing facilities will be relocated in a super new build in Derwent St. Or so the glossy leaflets and booklets distributed across Belper would have us believe.
However, if you dig beneath the glossy exterior and platitudes of joined up care a very different picture emerges.
Very little mention is made of the fact that none of the 24hr nursed rehab and end of life care beds will be retained in the town. Instead we are assured that so called surplus beds in Ripley, Ashbourne and Ilkeston will magically fill the vacuum. Whilst there is no surplus capacity in Ripley and statistics about the other hospitals remains obscure, the prospect of journeying to either in wintry conditions would appear daunting in the extreme. Added to that, we are asked to believe in a new build for which, although the land has been purchased, no planning permission has yet been granted or sought.
A figure of £5.9 million has been quoted for the new build but the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) are understandably reticent on what will happen if the new build, as often happens, exceeds the estimated cost. Nor has a FOI request yielded any information as to the cost of renovating the existing building.
Much has been made of the existing state of Babington Hospital and the yearly rental fee made to NHS Property, the body to which the hospital was transferred in 2013 on grounds of surplus requirements. Bet you were told that five years ago! If the building is in disrepair and working well below capacity it would seem that this has been a conscious choice and bears no relation to the increasing demands on our NHS and specifically on The Royal Derby who are constantly requesting respite and rehab beds to ease the pressures of bed blocking.
Moreover, the concept of surplus beds anywhere appears even more absurd when we know that Derbyshire is expected to lose 535 beds and take a budget cut of £280m before 2020.
These are the bare facts but recent campaigns from Devon to Leicester and Huddersfield in Yorkshire are evidence that our community hospital resources can be saved. Our petition will be presented to the CCG in Cardinal Square on Friday whilst there seems to have been little positive response to the mass-produced questionnaire distributed for the ‘engagement process.’ Remember that not so long ago we were promised a full and open public consultation before any closures were finalised.
Perhaps our greatest fear is that the intended demoralisation of hospital staff will leave us in the situation Bolsover faced last year.
Bolsover Hospital was given just three days’ notice of closure owing to staff shortages.
Join us at the Strutts Centre at 7.00 pm on Monday 26th to find out more and support our campaign. Even better, join us outside the hospital before the meeting at 6.15 pm to show your appreciation of our much loved and valued hospital.