MP calls on health secretary to back mission to save Lutterworth's cottage hospital

A furious MP is calling on health secretary Matt Hancock to back his mission to rescue Lutterworth’s under-threat cottage hospital

By Red Williams
Monday, 27th July 2020, 9:45 am

Alberto Costa, the MP for South Leicestershire, said he was “very disappointed” that Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust won’t be re-opening in-patient services at the Fielding Palmer Hospital for Covid-19 patients.

The Conservative MP’s fight is being backed by outraged campaigners and veteran Harborough health activist Cllr Phil Knowles.

“I am hugely disappointed that Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust will not be pressing ahead with their plans to re-open the recently closed in-patient ward at Feilding Palmer Hospital as a specialist facility for Covid-positive patients.

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“Only a matter of weeks ago, the Trust outlined their serious intent for the reopening of this vital service and now they have baulked at the requisite cost and changed their mind,” said Mr Costa.

“Further, despite repeated requests for doing so, they are still to publish a timeframe for the re-opening of the ward, for general use, which in itself is profoundly troubling to me and my constituents.

“I’m also disappointed the NHS Trust has not published a timetable for the re-opening of the hospital’s in-patient beds for general care despite Government calls for hospitals and services across the country to return to normality.”

He fears the 121-year-old hospital on Gilmorton Road, Lutterworth, will now be axed by the cash-strapped health authority.

“I am of the similar opinion to many residents in South Leicestershire that the longer these in-patient beds are closed, the easier it will be for the NHS Trust to close the hospital moving forward.

“That’s why it’s crucially important that these services are resumed in their full capacity, in line with the Government’s advice, as soon as reasonably possible,” said Mr Costa.

“I will be taking this matter forward with the Health Secretary.

“I will also continue pushing for the early re-opening of this vital service on behalf of my constituents.”

Cllr Knowles, a Harborough district councillor, said: “I am a huge advocate of cottage hospitals.

“We should have local hospitals for local people.

“We have an outstanding example of this in Market Harborough with St Luke’s Hospital – which took nigh on 30 years to achieve.”

He added: “Lutterworth, like Market Harborough, is growing all the time.

“The town seriously needs 21st century medical facilities for the 21st century.

“We have to protect and improve Fielding Palmer Hospital for the sake of everyone in the Lutterworth area.”

Mary Guppy, 77, who has been spearheading the fierce battle to save Fielding Palmer Hospital, said: “The fact that these wards are not being re-opened is a savage blow to all of us.

“Sadly I am not surprised as it was all taking far too long.

“I don’t have a lot of faith in these people right now but our fight to succeed will not end here.”

Mary, of South Kilworth, added: “Fielding Palmer Hospital has been our proud local hospital since 1899.

“Tens of thousands of people from all over the area have been treated there over the decades.

“And never has it been more urgently needed than it is now as our local population continues to boom and grow day in day out.

“It would be stupid and short-sighted to continue to wind down our hospital before finally closing it down the road.

“We are not prepared to let that happen.

“We will be coming out with all guns blazing to make sure that these wards are re-opened and that local people will be able to go to their local hospital – and not be forced to trek all the way to Leicester or Coventry instead.”

Angela Hillery, chief executive of Leicestershire Partnership Trust, said: “To continue to keep our patients and staff safe, we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of all 12 wards in our community hospitals in line with the Government’s latest infection prevention control guidance, to assess their suitability in dealing with Covid-positive patients and preventing the risk of transmission.

“Feilding Palmer Hospital has been assessed as the least well-suited ward to care for Covid-positive patients.

“We had hoped that with some reasonable alterations to the site, we would have been able to re-open the ward to temporarily treat Covid-positive patients.

“However, our review has identified that there would still be limitations for storing and providing piped oxygen on the ward and have safe socially-distanced staff and patient wellbeing areas.”

She added: “As our smallest and oldest hospital (opened in 1899), unfortunately its layout doesn’t allow for social distancing or allow us to follow the Government’s infection prevention control guidelines at this time.

“I recognise that Lutterworth residents have a great deal of affection for the hospital, and will be disappointed to hear there will be no early return to inpatient services.

“This is understood and we apologise if we have inadvertently raised their expectations through exploring the option.

“However, our decision is in the best interests of patient and staff safety, reflects the demand and capacity required at this time and therefore offers best value for taxpayers’ money.”