Rutland Health and Social Care Policy Consortium fears NHS clinical commissioning groups have 'hidden agenda' to close Rutland Memorial Hospital
Concerns have been raised over the future of Rutland Memorial Hospital as the local NHS looks to reconfigure hospital services.
Rutland Health and Social Care Policy Consortium, which monitors health issues in the county, fears there is a “hidden agenda” to close the Oakham facility.
A spokesman said: “The local hospital at Ashby was closed six years ago but the promised alternative services were still not in place at the beginning of this year and we fear Rutland Memorial could be next.”
The group has voiced its concerns that the county could become a “health desert” as plans to transform services in Leicester have seemingly taken priority.
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, has vowed to fight for local health services, including Rutland Memorial Hospital.
She said: “I raised directly with the clinical commissioning group (CCG) just two weeks ago the importance of developing a comprehensive healthcare strategy for Rutland, from sufficient GP services to ensuring Rutland Memorial is sustainable, and I hope to see this progressed as a matter of urgency.
“I will make sure Rutlanders are not forgotten, and have their voices heard by the CCG.”
A spokesman for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland clinical commissioning groups said they would be “involving the population of Rutland in the development of specific plans for services in Rutland, in the near future”.
She added: “This will include discussions on Rutland Memorial Hospital and other services provided locally and will take account of the impact of the temporary changes made during the coronvirus pandemic.”
‘Temporary changes’ include a move away from face-to-face contact towards telephone and video consultations, which critics say could be used as a reason to close health facilities in future.
When asked, the CCGs did not comment directly on whether their plans could include the closure of Rutland Memorial Hospital.
Services offered at the hospital currently include cardiology, general surgery, elderly care, gynaecology, community paediatrics and urology, as well as an urgent care centre.
It comes as the CCGs, in partnership with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, begin a public consultation on £450 million plans to transform hospital and maternity services in Leicester .
All acute services would be centralised at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital, which would benefit from 139 new in-patient beds, a planned care treatment centre, a new children’s hospital, two super intensive care units, and a new maternity hospital.
However, around 500 acute care and maternity beds would reportedly be removed from Leicester General Hospital, which would become a ‘health campus’ for non-acute services.
There are also plans to relocate the midwifery-led unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Melton Mowbray to Leicester General.
The health consortium says the downgrading of Leicester General means Rutlanders will have to travel further to access many services.
The spokesman said: “We advise Rutlanders to only agree to the closure of Leicester General and Melton Birthing Unit on condition that a costed plan to provide a full range of community services based on Rutland Memorial and including beds to prevent admission to acute hospitals.”
The CCGs spokesman added: “The Clinical Commissioning Groups are committed to providing as much care and treatment closer to people’s homes, with quicker access to services that are tailored to meet the needs of communities.
“To succeed we must keep all that’s good about existing health services, whilst also transforming patient care that meets the needs of future generations.”
To take part in the Better Hospital Leicester consultation, visit www.betterhospitalsleicester.nhs.uk/what-are-we-consulting-on/