Our observations: Forest hospitals citizens’ jury Day 2 | Owen Adams & Zac Arnold

Today, the Citizens’ Jury to develop a recommendation on the location of a new, community hospital continued on day 2 of 5. Two members of HOLD’s Core Group were observing, here is what we learned:


1/ Friends of Lydney Hospital’s Tony Midgley said that if Lydney is not chosen for the new location, the Friends will review its current support for the single hospital proposal. The Friends also do not know what they would do with their £1.5 million assets if Lydney is not the chosen hospital site, as they were raised for Lydney hospital.

2/ There was confusion over whether Newent is part of the catchment area for the Forest of Dean hospital. We were told yesterday it wasn’t but today we and the Jury were indeed told it was. Lydney and Coleford had presented their 30-minute travel times maps but not considered Newent, while Cinderford did. As part of Lydney’s presentation, Dr Stefan Scheuner (resident of Stroud, GP in Blakeney) said Newent wasn’t part of the Forest of Dean as it was not part of the Forest of Dean GP cluster. He said it was a “matter for the health authority”.

Towards the end of the day, the Jury director Dr Malcolm Oswald confirmed the GP cluster designation (where Newent, and Staunton and Corse are part of Tewkesbury) is not relevant to the community hospital – the whole Forest of Dean District must be considered.

This advice does, however, contradict page 5 of the Case For Change which formed the basis of this whole proposal, which states:
“Of particular relevance is the commitment within the One Gloucestershire STP to the development of place based models of care, focused around groups of general practices and their registered population. The Forest of Dean cluster comprises the 11 GP practices within the Forest of Dean with a combined registered population of approx. 63,000 (Newent and Staunton to the north fall within the Tewkesbury cluster). Additionally, the CCG has assumed responsibility from Wales for commissioning healthcare services for those people who live in England, but who are registered with a Welsh GP. This adds a further 8,811 people to the overall population considerations.” (page 5 of document, or page 34 here https://theholdcampaign.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/fod-health-governing-body-papers-part-1.pdf

While jurors noted Lydney and Coleford had not including the north of the district in their travel / transport considerations, it was noted that Cinderford’s 30-minute travel time missed out Tidenham and everywhere west of Lydney.
3. Coleford has included provision for a new hospital as a last-minute addition of its Neighbourhood Development Plan despite not specifically consulting on that (only on its Health Centre). If the town is unsuccessful, the recently added paragraph will then be removed from the NDP’s Policy CITPA3 before it goes to referendum on September 13. See http://www.colefordtownplan.com


* Lydney billed itself as “the town of the future”. Lydney was set to have the highest population rise of the three towns, plus up to 1,000 new homes in Beachley – by 2031 the Lydney team’s population estimates are 16,000 for Lydney, and 9,000 each for Coleford and Cinderford. John Thurston, presenting, said “we are not allowed to tell you about the two sites” identified and that they “did this before the exercise started”. As well as the lack of mention of Newent (see above), one juror said they were unhappy to see Mitcheldean was not within 30-minutes’ driving time (the criteria is that the majority of the Forest must have that maximum travel time). Lydney said it was the “best benefit for the most population easy to reach”.

* Dr Scheuner, an “unscripted” late addition to the Lydney team of five, raised fears about the “downgrading” of the Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust’s recently built c.£11m Vale Hospital near Dursley, where beds are being converted from non-acute community use to specialising in strokes. He also spoke about staffing problems, with Gloucestershire community hospitals relying on agency and locum staff.

* Coleford’s case was presented by town mayor Nick Penny and town councillor Marilyn Cox. They argued Coleford was “fresh, new and dynamic”, had 35 green spaces, and also it was the only part of the Forest where a majority (54%) had supported the consultation’s “preferred option” of a single hospital. They said Coleford was twice or four times better than Lydney or Cinderford in terms of bus links and frequency, and Coleford was set for a population growth of 23%, including “affordable” and “lifetime” homes. The Mayor said the town council did not know which two sites had been identified for Coleford, they had earmarked half a dozen sites for planners to verify as viable.

* Chris Witham, chair of Cinderford Town Council said the council had “consulted widely” with NHS professionals, as well as “third sector colleagues”. He did not reveal the potential sites, but the “£450-million investment” of the Northern Quarter, he said, would allow new transport links to be configurated. He argued that because Cinderford was accessible from the A40 or A48 it would make all the difference if one of those routes was closed if taking a patient for acute care in Gloucester. He also stressed that the support of helimed is invaluable in acute trauma specialist cases needing to go to Bristol, such cases are more likely in the Forest of Dean’s younger residents. Friends of the Dilke Hospital “fully support” Cinderford’s bid, but does not have £1.5 million in assets. Cllr Witham emphasised he wanted a hospital location that was “available to all” and that Cinderford was known as the “heart of the Forest”.

HOLD will be back tomorrow as the Jury continues and will be posting our observations tomorrow evening.

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