Buttercross, May 15, 2015: New Friends must review future of Swaffham hospital collection

Swaffham Community Hospital. ENGANL00120120611100950
Swaffham Community Hospital. ENGANL00120120611100950
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Recently I wrote about our hospital. My observations followed a short visit where I looked forward to seeing the improvements made to benefit patients, especially those being admitted to wards.

I have, after all, known the complex for some 70 years and it wasn’t long ago that we looked like losing it totally.

We all know that recent experiences nationally have produced a culture of suspicion where the need has arisen for hospitals to carefully monitor visitors, but do we have that need in Swaffham?

Was there the need to spend considerable amounts of money locking off so many areas to deny, amongst others, access to those that were able to assist so much, these being the old Friends and particularly their chairman?

The much valued garden areas, cared for lovingly by the chairman and his wife over the years, has now been put, regrettably, into commercial hands. It is small wonder the chairman found his position untenable.

My earlier article inferred that the openness of the facility appeared to be lost, along with a welcoming feeling. This was not meant to criticise staff who I am sure do excellent work, as no doubt many patients will testify.

But simple risk assessments at the time of redesign would have identified a very low risk of intrusion and would have allowed for the easier movement of visitors. The Friends, with their duties, would still have had easy access to where help was required.

Many of us regret that our previous League of Friends chairman chose to stand down after so many years of unstinting and rewarding work. The now improved and expanded hospital would have given him and his committee scope to push us on to even greater heights.

Nevertheless we are were we are and no doubt townspeople will wish to give the new Friends’ committee, with its new chairman, every chance to prove themselves worthy successors.

But a worry is that the main annual fundraiser, the house to house collection, appears to have been scrapped. Earlier it was stated that, with the new committee only just in place, it would not be taking place this year. Now we are being told it is considered an out-of-date way of raising funds.

The biggest plus was that it got to every Swaffham home and just about every household responded. Last year, more than £8,000 was raised by this one collection, and this surely stands shows its value. Perhaps the cancellation should be re-considered. It is far too valuable, literally, to disregard.