NHS comments insensitive'

PUBLISHED: 12:29 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 06 May 2010

I was appalled to read the report of Mrs. Barbara Follett s comments (The Comet, Thursday, September 14) on the staff cuts contemplated by the Lister Hospital. Even though she says she meets with the Trust s health service bosses regularly, her remarks re

I was appalled to read the report of Mrs. Barbara Follett's comments (The Comet, Thursday, September 14) on the staff cuts contemplated by the Lister Hospital. Even though she says she meets with the Trust's health service bosses regularly, her remarks reveal that she has not got the slightest idea of what she is talking about, and that she is totally out of touch with medical matters.

She says "There are too many hospitals in this area and not enough people going through them."

My wife's experience is that the Accident and Emergency admission wards are seriously overloaded, and that there is always difficulty in finding a bed in a proper ward until another patient is discharged or moved elsewhere. There are no empty beds standing idle.

She goes on to say "They (the hospitals) are meant to treat very sick people. Not minor conditions, not even chemotherapy". Mrs Follett appears to be so insensitive towards patients with life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, as to suggest that chemotherapy is a treatment for a minor condition, and not a course of last resort for cancer that can only be treated that way. Moreover, chemotherapy is a general term covering the administration of a cocktail of different drugs, often formulated according to the patient's condition, and usually requires the back-up of hospital facilities which would not be available in a super-surgery.

In autumn 2005 my wife was diagnosed as having a rare form of cancer, and was desperately ill over the New Year with lymphoma-induced pneumonia. Thanks to brilliant nursing and medical care in the Lister for a period of 10 days she was able to start her course in February of six chemotherapy treatments spread over four and a half months. She is now fully restored to good health, for which we are eternally grateful to the Lister's magnificent chemotherapy department and caring staff.

If Mrs Follett's Labour government had not squandered £14 billion on an NHS database, now abandoned as unworkable, it would not be necessary to make any cuts in specialist and highly-trained nursing staff. Even worse is the Government's attempt to disguise the cuts as reorganisation. Perhaps Mrs Follett is not aware that surgeries shut down over the weekend and public holidays, and seriously ill patients have no option but to seek help from Lister's A and E department.

PETER STAINFORTH, Park Lane, Knebworth

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