Campaigners battling to save an historic community hospital in Lutterworth believe they are winning their desperate fight.
Mary Guppy, 77, said she is feeling much more confident of saving the town’s Feilding Palmer Hospital after holding crunch talks with regional NHS leaders and South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa.
“We held a very positive meeting with local health chiefs and I’m delighted at how it went.
“The people who lead the NHS here are finally beginning to listen to us and to engage rather than just going through the motions,” said Mary, who’s spearheading the mission to keep the Victorian hospital open.
“One of my colleagues, David Fish, put together an excellent presentation brilliantly making our case to save Feilding Palmer Hospital.
“This hospital is very close to all our hearts and is deeply-rooted in our community.
“We need it more than ever as our population in the Lutterworth area grows almost every day of the week.”
The veteran activist’s Community Rebuild Lutterworth Hospital Group met Andy Williams, chief executive of the NHS’s three key Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Mr Williams said: “We are delighted that Mary Guppy and her group are making a contribution to plans for services at Lutterworth Hospital and welcome their ideas.
“It was good to see that many of the ideas put forward are consistent with our aim of providing more care closer to home and with an important role for community hospitals particularly providing day care and outpatients care.
“Reducing time taken to travel to central Leicester for health care is also very important.”
He added: “We are very grateful for the time taken to work up the ideas and really value the interest and commitment of the group to get involved and help shape local services.
“We need a local plan that meets the needs of Lutterworth people which is why we value the work of the group and the willingness of those in the community to share their ideas.
“There are differences, not least over inpatient beds.
“But we welcome the opportunity for ongoing discussions about local NHS plans for Lutterworth including Lutterworth Hospital.
“I’d also like to thank MP Alberto Costa for arranging the meeting.”
Mary, who was born in the 121-year-old Feilding Palmer Hospital on Gilmorton Road, Lutterworth, said: “At last we all seem to be singing from the same page.
“I was born at the hospital, my husband worked there and my mother spent three months in there.
“We need a first-class community hospital on our doorsteps.
“How can elderly people, especially, be expected to travel to hospitals in Leicester or Coventry for treatment?
“And the sheer logistics of travelling to hospitals much further afield have become even harder during this awful coronavirus pandemic.”
She said the ageing hospital will almost certainly have to be largely rebuilt.
“We want to keep the historic heart of the Feilding Palmer.
“But it does urgently need extending and modernising to cater for all our needs into the 2020s and beyond,” insisted Mary, of South Kilworth.
“Every community has a right to have their own cottage hospital.
“We can now see a brighter light at the end of the tunnel.
“We feel Andy Williams understood that people here genuinely value and appreciate Lutterworth Hospital.
“We now hope to continue to work closely with our health commissioners into the future and will engage with local people to seek their views on critical services.
“We have raised almost £5,000 from local people to help revitalise our hospital – that’s how much our community is standing four square behind us.”
MP Alberto Costa said: “We held a very encouraging and productive discussion that has helped lay a good foundation for future planning at the hospital.
“Feilding Palmer is a hugely-important asset for the people of South Leicestershire.
“I look forward to continue working closely with both the local NHS and the Community Rebuild Group to safeguard this service for the benefit of my constituents in Lutterworth and across Leicestershire.”