Letters: Colin Houghton, April 10, 2015

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As chairperson of the new committee for the League of Friends at Swaffham Community Hospital I would like to reply to Buttercross (Lynn News, April 3) about recent events.

I would like to correct the assertion that the previous chairman and some members of the committee were “cast aside” in a “matter-of-fact” way.

The past chairman and previous members came to their own decisions about their futures. No one put any pressure on any of them to make the choice that they did. They could have chosen to remain and carry on the fantastic work that they had achieved.

However, because of the revised approach at the hospital they decided individually that they did not wish to continue under the new regime. There was the possibility that the League of Friends (which is a registered charity) could have been wound up and ceased to exist.

No one wanted this and four members of the old committee were also against it. If this had happened, it would have been a major loss and ultimately the patients may have lost out.

As the article pointed out the hospital and its patients have benefited greatly from the past committee’s support and the amazing fundraising achieved.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the chairman for his energy and commitment to the hospital and welfare of its patients. We have arranged a “thank you” reception for the past chairman and members on the May 1 and look forward to thanking them publicly in this way.

The new committee is still formed from local townspeople, including four members from the old committee. We continue to enjoy the patronage of the Baroness Shephard. We are all energised to carry on the past brilliant work undertaken and have established a new vibrant group who will seek to expand on what has already happened. We have some new ideas and will continue to work with the senior staff at the hospital to better the patient experience. All the committee are involved in the local community and we consider that there remains a “truly local connection with residents. From our point of view we do not feel there is any “expression of sadness” within the building or the place appearing “soullness”. Also on behalf of the League I would strongly refute that there is any feeling of “an air of dispassionate approach” anywhere within the Hospital The League still do have access to the hospital and some members act as volunteers.

This includes time with patients and even doing washing of patients’ clothes.

We are exploring how “volunteering” can be expanded within the trust’s guidelines. We have thoughts about helping to maintain the hospital garden areas and would work with contractors.

We want our hospital to remain strong and vibrant. Our new committee is committed to this. The local population has been a great support. Long may this continue.

Colin Houghton,

Chairperson, Swaffham Community Hospital League of Friends