Lowestoft NHS Services At Risk: Do Your Views Matter On Lowestoft Hospital?

LCAC went to the last of HealthEast’s public meetings on its plans for Lowestoft Hospital and the new health centre in Kirkley. About thirty members of the public were faced by executives and doctors from HealthEast who are given and spend most of the NHS money for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. What did we find out?

AndyEvansHealthEast’s Chief Exec, Andy Evans (pictured), talked about a once in a lifetime opportunity to remodel health services in Lowestoft yet oddly the Kirkley Health Centre was not its idea; HealthEast LCAC went to the last of HealthEast’s public meetings on its plans for Lowestoft Hospital and the new health centre in Kirkley. About thirty members of the public were faced by executives and doctors from HealthEast who are given and spend most of the NHS money for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. What did we find out?

HealthEast’s Chief Exec, Andy Evans (pictured), talked about a once in a lifetime opportunity to remodel health services in Lowestoft yet oddly the Kirkley Health Centre was not its idea; HealthEast inherited the plot and the money from “the previous regime”. So they built it. It will house two doctors’ surgeries and other services (including some now at Lowestoft Hospital) and there would also be a new health centre in the north to cater for residents there. Why two are needed was not clear although a great deal was made of the bridge. Would services be duplicated? Why was it being proposed to provide council services when the councils plan to spend £15m on doing the same thing? Again there were no clear answers.

Money to modernise Lowestoft Hospital would come out of the James Paget Hospital’s budget, we were told, while selling it (although that word was never used) would “release assets”. Andy Evans’ own view was that it would be an ideal site for a care home and sheltered housing. The NHS is responsible for neither so presumably selling is the plan. No site for a possible health centre in the north was mentioned. inherited the plot and the money from “the previous regime”. So they built it.

It will house two doctors’ surgeries and other services (including some now at Lowestoft Hospital) and there would also be a new health centre in the north to cater for residents there. Why two are needed was not clear although a great deal was made of the bridge. Would services be duplicated? Why was it being proposed to provide council services when the councils plan to spend £15m on doing the same thing? Again there were no clear answers.

Money to modernise Lowestoft Hospital would come out of the James Paget Hospital’s budget, we were told, while selling it (although that word was never used) would “release assets”. Andy Evans’ own view was that it would be an ideal site for a care home and sheltered housing. The NHS is responsible for neither so presumably selling is the plan. No site for a possible health centre in the north was mentioned.

The main message was that patients could be better cared for at or close to home, that times and health care have moved on. We shouldn’t think about build- ings. But beds will still be needed. If Lowestoft Hospi- tal is closed beds would be bought in private care homes (there aren’t any others) or patients treated in the James Paget. Neither is an improvement on what exists. We were assured that Andy Evans would keep a close eye on standards in the care homes.

The privatisation threat sparked great debate. The two doctors present said that they cherished the NHS and that HealthEast supported and would use NHS provision. They seemed unaware of how far privatisation has already happened, that Community Health Care in both Suffolk and Norfolk (not Waveney) is in the hands of Serco. Serco’s latest wheeze is to charge millions for monitoring tagged prisoners who don’t exist. The dangerous fiascos of privatised out-of-hours services and the 111 service were also brought up.

The doctors didn’t answer when asked if they would send patients to private providers. Chief Exec Andy Evans brought us down to earth. If private compa- nies offered better value for money then he would, of course, have to consider them. Money was tight. Nobody mentioned Trident.

What do we think? The doctors seemed dazzled by “the vision” of remodelled services but less aware of some of the practical issues and certainly naïve about the Government’s intention to see the NHS priva- tised. Our belief is that Lowestoft Hospital, which is in an ideal location, should be brought up to date and that it should be the main centre for health services in Lowestoft. We need a hospital in Lowestoft.

One thought on “Lowestoft NHS Services At Risk: Do Your Views Matter On Lowestoft Hospital?

  1. During question time at The Cut in Halesworth you mentioned that being fair was an important criteria for you in deciding future requirements. Please explain to me that while the NHS is funding new medical facilities in Lowestoft, and Southwold/ Reydon plus the hospital in Beccles it is not funding new medical facilities in Halesworth. Is this fair? I tried to ask this question but was not selected.
    Halesworth Health has been forced to go down the private route because your organisation has ignored Halesworth over the years.

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