Fighting for our hospital services

SIR – I refer to Louise McEvoy s article in last week s Comet in which she details the fight to back the Lister in saving its acute and emergency services. She outlines the active support promised by local MPs as well as The Comet who are pro-active in th

SIR - I refer to Louise McEvoy's article in last week's Comet in which she details the fight to back the Lister in saving its acute and emergency services. She outlines the active support promised by local MPs as well as The Comet who are pro-active in this vital, life-saving campaign.

There can be few people in the community of North Herts who are not horrified and worried at the thought of losing these services at the Lister and to be fair we must understand the same worries being experienced by those who rely at present on the QEII.

I feel Oliver Heald has hit the nail on the head when he said "I really do not understand how they will carry out the work with anything less than A&E at two hospitals".

Costs, reforms and financial restrictions are tools so often used in so called arguments for progress and what is considered best for the community. The bottom line is surely catering for the needs of us all, most of us will have to seek the help of A&E some time in our lives, either for ourselves or for those we love. In every hospital the A&E department should be an integral part of the whole set-up - just as important as the specialist wards and related services. In our area we are facing the prospect of an increased population with new housing proposed in the coming years. What the Lister needs urgently is a larger A&E department. At the moment it is too small to cope properly with the increasing calls on its services. I have had three visits in December for health scares and I was able to see for myself how hard the staff work in confined conditions with inadequate accommodation to cope with incoming patients. Traffic accidents, heart attacks, stroke victims as well as less traumatic cases were coming in relentlessly.

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Lack of vacant cubicles meant that many, including myself, had to spend hours on trolleys in corridors, not an ideal situation by any means, but one which could not be avoided because there was just nowhere else to put people. Nurses and doctors worked for hours rushing to and fro dealing with all the emergencies, with seemingly no breaks at all. With such cramped conditions problems with hygiene must also be of major concern. If the QEII patients are to be sent to the Lister then the size of the department, as well as staff, would have to be extended enormously just to accommodate everyone.

Each hospital deserves and should have, as a moral right for each and every one of us, its own, efficient emergency department. I would suggest that the planned NHS service reconfigurations are revisited urgently and that a new, sensible plan is formulated with a view to meeting the needs of the people of this area first and foremost.

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SIR - What an appalling choice to close one of the hospitals in two heavily populated expanding towns. The NHS needs to be overhauled, not destroyed piece by piece. Let us say QEII 'wins'. Does anyone remember before Lister was built? How almost impossible it was to get to the hospital? Even today, not everyone has access to a car, forget taking a train and there is a frequent late night or weekend bus service between the two towns.

Has anyone considered the predicament of people having strokes and heart attacks? There is only a one and a half hour window during which 'clot busting' drugs, the only cure can be given. By the time a Stevenage patient realises they have a problem, waits for an ambulance, (is that service being moved as well?) gets to hospital and has the necessary diagnostic tests, its too late for any effective treatment. It is the difference between complete recovery with a normal, independent productive life, total dependence with nursing home care or even death.


Holly Leys


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