7:57am Thu Jan 12, 2017
WE ARE less than two weeks into 2017, but fears have already been expressed that it could be as long as two years before the sorry saga of Newark’s Robin Hood Hotel reaches a conclusion.
Hospital staff not to blame
8:10am Thu Jan 12, 2017

In December Newark MP Mr Robert Jen-rick suggested I had an overly negative view of the state of the local NHS (Credit To Improving Trust, News Views, December 10).

Unfortunately, he misses the point.

My letter (Strategy Relied On Merger, News Views, November 24) highlighted the long-running downgrading of services at Newark Hospital that has adversely affected local healthcare services, impacted on the performance of East Midlands Ambulance Service and the performance of alternative A&E departments.

The blame for all of this should be laid fairly and squarely at the door of politicians, middle managers and service transformers and not the doctors, nurses and volunteers who have done a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances.

There has been a catalogue of failures, beginning with the levering of Newark Hospital into Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (SFHT) and the disastrous PFI.

The widely criticised Newark Healthcare Review in 2010 was followed by two unsuccessful attempts to develop a strategy for Newark Hospital.

The latest rested heavily on the failed attempt to merge SFHT with Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, at a cost of £10m, when Newark Hospital cost only £10.7m to build.

Other issues include the rise in mortality rates documented in 2011/12 that led to SFHFT being put into special measures; the eye-watering cost of successive SFHT chief executives and chairmen; the extraordinary length of time that people in the Newark area have to wait for an ambulance; the often routine transfer of Newark patients to alternative A&Es for minor emergencies; the almost normal way that people in Newark are given appointments at King’s Mill Hospital when they could easily be treated at Newark; and the fact that Newark Hospital is now 57% under-utilised four years after Monitor criticised SFHFT for it being 55% under-used.

We can now add to that list the loss of the free bus service to King’s Mill.

None of this is the responsibility of hospital staff.

It is the fault of the politicians, chief executives and health planners who are paid salaries that sound like lottery wins to ordinary people.

The poor performance of the political elite, the management of SFHT and Newark and Sherwood CCG casts a long shadow.

No amount of spin will dim the stark realities of the healthcare system we have been left with.

­— PAUL BAGGALEY, secretary, Say Yes To Newark Hospital.

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