A surgeon speaks on community hospitals and NHS privatisation

David Halpin FELLOW OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS knows what is needed – see his letter………


Dear Letters Editor, 25th April 2018

I reply to the letter from B Gelder (WMN April 23rd) entitled ‘Cottage Hospitals ease strain on the NHS.’ I have written before on this vital subject and listed their functions.

Recovery from serious illness or major operations requires loving and professional care, good nutrition and sound sleep. These were provided in good Community Hospitals. The last thing patients might get in the District General Hospital is a good night’s sleep. The noise, the moving of beds and the distress of disorientated patients do not allow sleep.

This retreat, supposedly for economy, from past high standards is part of what I call the ‘atomising’ of all that we hold dear. The dogmas of capitalism win out all the time. ‘Private good, public bad’. So with the privatisation of OUR railways under the Major government, the wheels were stupidly separated from the tracks to meet EU competition rules. There are about 3000 separate contractors working on the permanent way. There are probably more ‘contractors’ working in OUR NHS.

This is a sign of these shabby and confused times. Walking to Paddington Station past St Mary’s Hospital where I qualified as a doctor in 1964, I saw an ambulance – ‘NHS working in partnership with DHL.’

I understand that Teignmouth Community Hospital is likely to be closed completely. That catch phrase ‘not fit for purpose’ is being applied – ‘going forward’. The Philistines who order this will know that the original hospital was bombed by the Luftwaffe. Seven patients and three nurses were killed. They do not ‘remember them’. The first hospital to be built by the NHS, when the UK was on its uppers, was Teignmouth Hospital. Patients were treated for acute illness there by good GPs, nurses and physiotherapists, and others taken for further care from the big hospitals. It is being bombed again.

When this good hospital, with its views over Lyme Bay, becomes a 5 storey block of ‘luxury’ flats and second homes, the capital from the sale of the site will disappear in a puff of smoke. Taxpayers money is being burned in the NHS. The non-clinical staff in one Devon hospital now outnumber the clinical staff – nurses, physios, doctors etc. Watch BBC’s ‘Hospital’ from Nottingham as a quart fails to be squeezed into a pint pot. The proliferation of managerial personnel with unusual titles is excruciating and the distress of patients likewise.”