The fight to save our vital services

Having recently experienced Lister Hospital first hand, I would like to support the campaign to save the hospital services. The skills and dedication of the staff from the doctors, the nurses and support team at Lister Hospital are second to none. However

Having recently experienced Lister Hospital first hand, I would like to support the campaign to save the hospital services. The skills and dedication of the staff from the doctors, the nurses and support team at Lister Hospital are second to none. However, finances must be made available to maintain the staff levels as some have to leave and are apparently not being replaced.

During my stay, there were caring and dedicated students from Hertfordshire University, who were being trained, but had no job to go to when their training was completed. In an expansion programme, the NHS must invest in its future staff, as it is no use expanding the facilities, unless the skilled people are available to provide the services. The student nurses who were in attendance during my stay were outstanding, one of them taking a risk by calling the doctors off their scheduled round to attend to me when she saw that I was in need of urgent attention. Her concern was proved to be valid.

Without the dedication of the staff on Ward 9AN, I would not be writing this now. I was diagnosed with pneumonia on entry to Lister Hospital, but within a week this had developed into Empyema, a condition which I understand only 30% of patients recover from. I was given round-the-clock treatment and told I would be fighting for my life. With the full support of my wife, daughters and the staff, I was able to win this battle and I now enjoy returning to see the nurses and doctors who looked after me so well, to demonstrate my gradual successful recovery.

A shortcoming discovered during my stay was the lack of sustenance. The NHS has a budget of £2.30 per day, for each patient for food. How they supply the amount of food achieved for that sum is a miracle. During my three week stay I lost 30lb in weight, which did not help my subsequent recovery. Some of this weight loss was due to a lack of appetite caused by the illness, but when I was eating, there simply was not enough to maintain the constitution. The answer is quite clear, and that is the NHS expect the patient's family to supplement the diet and bring in extra food. We were not told this information when admitted. Both my wife and daughters brought in extra meals for me during my stay, even though I was not able to do them full justice. If patients and families realise this from the start, it will certainly avoid weakness due to under nourishment and assist recovery.

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While Lister Hospital certainly needs investment in the future in terms of expansion and particularly the staff, QE II will also require similar investment to help replace the void left by the abandonment of the new proposed hospital on the Hatfield Aerodrome site. With an increasing elderly population who are generally living longer and more active lives, the demands for care are going to grow, and provision must be made in advance if the system is not to be swamped. Let us not hear of any more talk of closing wards, but instead give the staff greater motivation and reward their loyalty and dedication as they are by far the greatest asset to the NHS.

Philip Birtles, Address supplied

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* In support of your campaign, here are some more reasons for preferring Lister to QEII as the major acute hospital for this area.

If Lister Hospital is chosen, there is a real chance that we could get a state-of-the-art care centre in Stevenage, with a full range of urgent care and outpatient facilities. This would relieve the pressure on the Lister, allowing it to be developed gradually into a first-class acute hospital.

It is possible that the centre could be provided in a mixed-use development in Stevenage town centre, where there are still undeveloped sites. Remember how Asda built the new college? I understand the Kings Cross developers are providing a primary care centre there.

The care centre could be located close to the proposed transport interchange - possibly over the new bus station, with access direct from the station concourse. This would be a great help to those who currently have to travel to the hospital for appointments, often many times, and sometimes on more than one bus. It would also be more convenient for the care centre staff.

Because the Lister is on several bus routes, it will continue to receive a fairly adequate service even without an outpatient department. QEII on the other hand could easily lose even its present level of service if its outpatient department were removed.

Stevenage and the North Herts towns between them comprise a high proportion of the population of the area. Visiting the super-hospital at Hatfield by public transport would have been difficult, and visiting QEII from these towns is even more so.

Oliver Christopherson, Address supplied

* I welcome the Comet's campaign to save services at Lister Hospital. I see that Cllr Sharon Taylor confirms that £100m will be spent at either QEII or Lister. The hospital chosen for that £100m (the winner) will be upgraded while the other will lose some services.

Cllr Taylor writes 'It is not helpful to oversimplify this discussion or portray it like a game in which either Stevenage or Welwyn Garden City will win'. It seems pretty obvious to me that there will be a winner and a loser so Cllr Taylor's statement looks questionable,

I would rather trust the unelected editorial team at the Comet to defend the interests of the people of Stevenage than our local council. I reckon that the Comet's team are more closely aware of our wishes and are likely to make better judgements if the publicity given to the latest Town Centre Folly is anything to go by.

I was at a public meeting that overflowed the hall at Barclay School when the two hospital managements merged. Most of us there didn't believe the assurances we were given for services to be retained at both sites. Our doubts look to have been well founded.

David Stonebanks, Chequers Bridge Road, Stevenage

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