Face-off in battle to save Shepton Mallet hospital beds
NHS chiefs will come face-to-face with campaigners battling to save the in-patient beds at Shepton Mallet Community Hospital.
A meeting is being held to explain how Shepton Mallet health services will be affected by NHS reforms.
The meeting, entitled "Changes for the NHS? Changes for Shepton Mallet?" has been arranged by the Central Mendip GP Federation, the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and members of the Shepton Mallet Community Hospital League of Friends and is being promoted as an information evening with local GPs.
Fears over the community hospital's future stem from proposed changes to the way the NHS is organised.
From April 1 next year primary care trusts and strategic health authorities in England will be abolished, and hospital and community health services will be purchased by new clinical commissioning groups.
During the meeting GPs will explain changes to the NHS and discuss how they are contributing to a review of health services in the Shepton Mallet area.
The public will be able to say what health services they value most and what changes in health services they want to see.
Major General Ray Pett, chairman of the Shepton Mallet Community Hospital League of Friends and chairman of the Save Our Hospital Beds Group, welcomed the news that local GPs, together with other NHS representatives, will be explaining the changes coming to the NHS, and how this will affect "our much-loved Community Hospital."
He said: "I particularly welcome the fact that patients and members of the public will be able not only to ask questions, but also to tell the people who will be making the decisions on local healthcare what we want.
"This will be the first, and possibly the only chance to feed in local views before proposals come out for public consultation later in the year, when it will be much more difficult to influence the outcome.
"I urge as many patients and other supporters as possible to attend the meeting and let the GPs know what we think about our hospital and its marvellous staff.
"We were also very encouraged to see the strong support for community hospitals expressed by all the MPs who spoke in the House of Commons debate on September 6."
All MPs present unanimously resolved that the House "recognises and supports the contribution of community hospitals to the care of patients within the NHS."
Maj Gen Pett said that showed that what people were doing locally was being repeated across the country.
He said: "In the case of Shepton Mallet, the people have spoken and we have succeeded in halting in its tracks an ill-conceived plan to close our valued community hospital beds to make short-term financial savings. The initiative is now with local GPs and we look forward to hearing their patient-orientated approach."
The meeting is being held on Tuesday, October 9, at the Mendip District Council offices at Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet from 7pm to 9pm.