A Valentines for our Community Hospitals | Zac Arnold & Louise Penny

Supporters of the HOLD (Hands Off Lydney & Dilke hospitals) campaign have delivered Valentine’s cards to the Dilke and Lydney Hospitals on behalf of all those who do not support the proposal by the Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group to close them – 58% in the recent consultation (46% no, plus 12% unsure).

HOLD has also installed a temporary Valentine’s display outside the Dilke Memorial Community Hospital, showing our enduring love for our National Health Service and the two hospitals, which were built by and funded by the community.

HOLD’s Zac Arnold said: “These two hospitals were built mainly by local workers’ subscriptions and they belong to us, the people. We do not recognise any legitimacy in the decision to close them and sell them. We know they have been chronically underfunded by the GCS NHS Trust and its predecessor Trusts for more than a decade, and we insist the £11m the Trust has in its pot for a single cheap new, under-sized, under-equipped hospital must be spent on the two hospitals to provide a better working environment for staff and improved facilities for patients.

“The country cannot cope with any further cuts in beds, and the £11m community hospital model the Trust and CCG want to impose on us (as they already have done in Tewkesbury, Dursley and the North Cotswolds) is a 20-bed building design with scant facilities.

“The Case For Change advanced by the county’s NHS overlords does not stand up to scrutiny, lacks clarity and is merely a smokescreen for asset-stripping. The Dilke and Lydney Hospitals are in desirable locations for developers – but we refuse to consent to our hospital sites being sold off to the highest bidder.

Zac with HOLD’s Valentines Day card before it is handed in to staff at Lydney Hospital

HOLD artist Louise Penny said: “We refuse to allow our Minor Illness and Injuries Units reduced from two to one, particularly with the increase in sports visitors and population rise when the Severn Bridge tolls end later this year. We will need more beds, and more facilities, not less, and as we fund our public healthcare through our National Insurance we demand full healthcare, not half measures and a feeding frenzy for private profiteers. There is also the knock-on effect of closure of facilities in the Chepstow/ Wye Valley area as well as elsewhere in Gloucestershire, meaning our acute hospitals are struggling to cope, with nowhere else to go for non-acute care, impossibly overburdening our city hospitals. This cannot go on.”

“We will thwart the process of rival land bids for a single new site and the kangaroo court con of a ‘citizens’ jury’ the CCG is proposing. The plan to close our hospitals and replace them with an indequate single facility has been formulated in secret. The general public was not made aware or given a say – and even when we were given a say, we have been ignored. Until the CCG/ NHS reverses its decision or it is quashed in a court of law, we the public will ensure that we can’t be ignored.

“We call on everyone who wants to stop these savage and dangerous cuts in Forest of Dean healthcare to join us in fighting it. Foresters have saved our hospitals before, we can do so again – and we win our battles here!”

* The HOLD campaign will be at the Triangle in Cinderford from 11am to 2pm on Saturday (February 17th) to launch a door-to-door #petitionstorm – which will help ascertain the extent of the majority opposing the closures.

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