Our observations: Forest hospitals citizens’ jury Day 1 | Owen Adams & Zac Arnold

Today, the Citizens’ Jury to develop a recommendation on the location of a new, community hospital began on it’s 5 day run. Two members of HOLD’s Core Group were observing, here is what we learned:  

* On Friday the jurors will make a “recommendation” (not actual decision as, say the NHS Trust, they are not a “publicly-accountable body”).

* This “recommendation” will then be considered by the NHS Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) boards at their meeting on 30 August.

* The “recommendation” could go four ways is for a rough location rather than the actual site: within two miles by road of Lydney town centre, Coleford town centre, Cinderford town centre, or no preference

* Several jurors expressed fears that the site had already been chosen, but they were assured by Dr Oswald that, to his knowledge, it hadn’t been and dismissed rumours as “conspiracy theories”

* Tomorrow (Tuesday) representatives from the three towns (Newent is not considered part of the Forest catchment area any more) will each give a presentation – two sites will be identified for each town, but the jurors will not be considering any site, as this might cause land prices to skyrocket. Forest of Dean District Council planners have verified all are viable sites.

* The 18 jurors seem to be about half-and-half male and female, half-and-half born-and-bred Foresters, other half residents who have moved here and lived here for at least five years, and from many different backgrounds. A number of jurors asked pertinent questions – those relating to the unknown facilities, beds issue (work on “bed modelling” is still continuing) whether the sites would be big enough or could be potentially expanded, whether public transport links would be provided. We did not witness any of these questions being answered today.

* The Citizens’ Jury itself appeared to us to be efficiently and well-intentionally run by the founders, the non-profit charity, the Jefferson Center from St Paul’s, Minnesota, USA, who conducted the introductory session – and the UK director of the Citizens’ Jury CIC, Dr Malcolm Oswald, with an accent on encouraging “deliberation” rather than debate. Dr Oswald met us at the end of the presentations and we told him we thought it was a pity the Citizens’ Jury could not have been used to make the crucial decision, where our majority views were ignored, as it seemed a positive concept for increasing public participation (if applied correctly).

* We only spotted one councillor observing some of the proceedings today.

*According to Candace Plouffe, Chief Operations Director for Gloucestershire Care Services, maternity services are controlled by Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust, not Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust.

*The quality of care is excellent and the quality of services has been rated good by CQC in the current sites. According to Plouffe, these are not the problems with the current site. The issues are the ‘poor infrastructure and difficulty balancing services and staff across two sites.’

*There will another round of consultation in the future in Winter 2018, Spring 2019 or Summer 2019 which will focus on the facilities and services that will be available in a new community hospital, with Candace Plouffe (Chief Operations Director for Gloucestershire Care Services) stating that this consultation “could possibly include maternity.”

*It is likely that the business plan for the replacement of Lydney and the Dilke will be published in early to mid 2019.

*Construction on a new hospital is scheduled to commence in mid to late 2019 and is scheduled for completion around 2020/21.

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