LETTER: Pendle Community Hospital - crucial questions

I AM not convinced by our Pendle MP’s assurances “there were no plans to close Pendle Community Hospital”. (November 18th).

His categorical statement seems to be contradicted by another one later in the same article: “Even if the provision of 72 beds for rehabilitation care at Pendle Community Hospital was to be reviewed”. We know the three wards with 72 beds are under review with 14 beds, paid for by NHS Blackburn with Darwen Trust, already going to be taken away.

If wards and beds are closed for in-patient care, you cannot call what remains a hospital. Without beds, it would just become a clinic. Bed provision is essential, particularly as a number of residential nursing homes locally are under threat of closure due to cuts in public funding. Frail and vulnerable elderly citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to find secure and safe facilities, which provide quality medical and social care.

The MP goes on to state “there were a range of other health services that could be provided from the site”. So, does this mean the trust will restore the closed rehabilitation day care unit? Could he specify what these other day services would be?

In my view, I do not think “the NHS is safe in the Government’s hands”. We are already witnessing a contraction and decline in health services with privatisation for profit already taking place. Waiting times for urgent operations and treatment are soaring, forcing some desperate people who can afford it to go private. The Government has had to re-impose targets which it scrapped when it came to power.

Under the Health and Social Care Bill going through Parliament in the Lords and Committee stages, the Secretary of State for Health has not yet made it clear that it is his duty to “provide” (not just “promote”) a comprehensive and free local National Health Service. As it stands, the Bill proposes the Health Secretary should pass over his responsibilities to an unelected and unaccountable quango, a Health Commissioning Board.

DAVID PENNEY

Noyna Street, Colne