Buttercross: Swaffham hospital needs local people’s involvement

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I wrote a piece a week or two ago about our hospital and, more importantly, about our hospital’s League of Friends.

There are few things in our town closer to our hearts than our hospital and, more than that, our actual involvement, over many years, in its wellbeing.

Now, it appears that this closeness between our town and the Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust (NCHC), who actually have responsibility for the facility, is in danger of breaking down.

Since the extension and updating of the buildings, a security system has been put in place which the Mission Impossible team would be pushed to crack.

We all know and understand the problems raised over “easy” access to hospital wards following the Jimmy Savile horror stories but, on risk alone, we certainly would never expect or experience such problems amongst us locally.

With doors now generally secured, and particularly internally between specific areas, this then bars people who could be there to help staff in simple ways.

This seems to many local people bizarre and totally “over the top”, as well as being unnecessarily expensive.

External to the building, and again a subject covered by Buttercross recently, it was hoped and expected that the Friends would have the opportunity, and perhaps the responsibility, to look after any planted borders, and also including of course the once impressive rear garden area.

It now appears that a grounds contractor, appointed by NCHC is taking on the maintenance of these same areas.

The beauty of the previous arrangement, and where the Friends and supporters were very much involved, was that a more caring and personal touch was very evident on what was planted out and maintained.

Some people had plants displayed in memory of loved ones, and certainly enjoyed by patients housed in the adjacent wards. It could even be argued that this provided an additional aid to recovery for some.

In summary, it now appears that much of the closeness between the League of Friends and the NCHC is being, or already has been, lost.

Townspeople have given freely over many years in support of this local treasure.

Our Health Service is in a parlous state financially and this is certainly a matter for the government of the day, and only them, to sort out.

But, if the recent events at our Community Hospital are anything to go by then things, and importantly particularly with financial matters, are going in the wrong direction.

Over the years, the League of Friends has handed over many thousands of pounds, willingly donated by townspeople, all to buy all sorts of equipment and enhancements, and all as requested by hospital staff, with no request refused.

The Prime Minister talks very freely of more localism for our communities, and we have had in the past an example of that at work.

In short, our townspeople, through the League of Friends, led so ably by David Gulliver with close support from his wife Kay and others, should certainly be more closely involved, in simple ways, in the day to day running of this valuable asset.

It makes, at the very least, financial sense and, certainly, we would additionally all sleep easier in our beds if we knew that such an arrangement was in place and ongoing.