Tuesday, 1 November 2011

New campaign launched to save West Cornwall Hospital

Around fifty people, representing three different local groups, a local councillor, the local newspaper and many ordinary local people discussed the loss of services at West Cornwall Hospital at a public meeting last night at the Ritz Community Centre in Queens Street in Penzance. The meeting agreed to launch a new campaign specifically to defend the hospital.

The meeting, organised by Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance followed a protest of about fifty protesters in Penzance on Saturday 22 October after the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust announced it would be closing a medical ward at the West Cornwall Hospital at the same time that a refurbished ward is finally re-opened. This represents half of the medical beds. In less than two hours, more than a thousand concerned local people signed a petition calling on the Trust to keep West Cornwall Hospital running as a functioning hospital.

In a meeting held at the hospital earlier this month Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance members were told that the ward would reopen on 5 November. Members are now worried that this lack of 'clarity' will only worsen when, and if, the Trust achieves foundation status.

Anthony Matthews, from Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance said "The reaction from local people was just fantastic. They were queueing up to sign the petition. In fact we were a little bit swamped at first. People of all ages are worried about what the future holds. One young girl told me that she and her friends would chain themselves to the hospital if it was ever threatened with closure".
The trust claims that the ward is being closed so that another can be opened at Treliske Hospital in Truro to deal with higher need during the winter months. However, many feel that this is another step towards the downgrading of the hospital to a clinic.

Many fear having to make expensive and time consuming journeys to Truro for treatment, especially as there are issues around funding for public transport.

Alana Bates, from Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance said "With the Coalition Government's cuts to the NHS we are seeing ward closures across the country. We are determined to keep our local services. If this is not a finincial decision, as the Trust claims, then why can't we have a ward at West Cornwall and a ward at Treliske? We want a good, accessable local hospital for everyone. We will do all we can to show that people in West Cornwall feel strongly about the need for the hospital."

Last night's meeting, hosted by Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance also heard from representatives of West Cornwall Health Watch, Save Our NHS (Cornwall), Lib Dem councillor Mario Fonk and a reporter from the Cornishman. The meeting agreed to launch a new umbrella group 'Hands Off Our Hospital' and elected an organising committee which will meet next Monday. It was also decided that other campaign groups such as Health Initiative Cornwall and the The League Of Friends Of The West Cornwall Hospital will be approached to join the new group.

The meeting decided to organise an event on the 3 December called 'Join Hands to Save Our Hospital'. It will be assembling at St. John’s Hall at 11am and walking to the hospital where there will be an attempt to encircle it to demonstrate the need to protect the hospital from proposed cuts.

Every Saturday between now and then there will be a stall at the bottom of Causeway Head from 11am until 1pm where the general public will be leafletted and signatures will be collected on a petition. There will also be leafletting door-to-door. Everyone is encouraged to join in to help spread the news about the campaign. For more information contact Alana on 07530428246 or email pzanticuts@hotmail.co.uk

Pics: Peter Carter

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