Buttercross, April 3, 2015: Care remains but something is missing at Swaffham hospital

Swaffham Community Hospital. ENGANL00120120611100950
Swaffham Community Hospital. ENGANL00120120611100950
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I don’t think I am the only one who has been wondering how our precious and much prized hospital is progressing after its recent considerable overhaul and extension.

Some will remember earlier articles concerning the cold and almost matter-of-fact way the previous chairman of our League of Friends was brushed aside, after the many years of considerable toil and effort put in not only by him and his wife but also by his dedicated committee formed mainly of well known and trusted townspeople.

How this gentleman has never picked up any national recognition for his efforts on our town’s behalf is a puzzle to many.

We all know that hundreds of thousands of pounds were raised to provide equipment for our hospital that otherwise would not have been forthcoming.

Let’s hope the new League will have similar success but there is a worry it may not, given the loss of the last chairman and some of that truly local connection with residents.

Recently I had occasion to attend at these Sporle Road premises, far better than having to make that journey to King’s Lynn.

As usual the treatment I received was first class, but in any case it was only minor. The overriding impression of the place, however, was one of sadness, knowing how things were in the past.

Every door is secured and pass keys or digital locks abound everywhere. The public waiting area off the front lobby is tiny and is akin to sitting in a not very large broom cupboard.

The whole atmosphere of the place appeared to be soulless, nothing like the cheerful and bubbly nature we all remember, days when League of Friends members attended on the wards openly to help staff with patients, days when hospital shopping was undertaken and widely appreciated by all.

Gardening was similarly attended to with areas dedicated with affection to former patients. Now a contractor tends to only the basic needs of these areas.

There can be no doubt that such close and heartfelt attention on the wards, in the dayroom and in the garden areas as undertaken in the past speeded many a patient back to good health. Now it all seems a little dispassionate. Let’s hope my impressions were wrong, gleaned as they were in a short visit.

There is no doubt that our hospitals have needed to bolster up their security systems. In some cases, however, perhaps it has been taken too far, and our hospital is one such example.

Well compiled risk assessments for all these premises would have identified different levels of required protection for staff and patients and surely our hospital needed very little.

Looking at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn, there appears to be no barring of access to anyone visiting which is very strange, given its size and what must be seen as its perceived vulnerability to those unwelcome visitors.