Outrage as theatres are closed in huge hospitals shake-up

PUBLISHED: 10:57 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 25 August 2010

Orpington Hospital protest

Bromley 22-07-08 Orpington Hospital protest

OPERATING theatres that were given an £8.8 million facelift will be closed as part of massive NHS changes.

OPERATING theatres that were given an £8.8 million facelift will be closed as part of massive NHS changes.

Outraged patients picketed outside Orpington Hospital on Tuesday after health bosses went ahead with plans to transfer planned surgery to a hospital more than five miles away.

Members of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCTs) unanimously decided to transfer services from Orpington to Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS), at a public meeting at Glaziers Hall, London Bridge, on Monday.

The committee, made up of bosses of Bromley, Bexley, Lewisham, Greenwich and West Kent PCTs, chose Option Two out of the three options presented to the public in the A Picture of Health consultation.

That gave the go-ahead to closing A&E and maternity services at QMS and reducing emergency services at University Hospital, Lewisham, to 12 hours.

But they decided to make 40 amendments to the option presented to the public in the 14-week consultation.

Receptionist Helen Barker, 57, from Orpington, who had a knee operation at the hospital, said: "I am absolutely disgusted. It is a great hospital. It is clean and the staff are wonderful. We don't get any infections because it is clean surgery.

"They haven't listened to anybody. I am not happy about the way they have gone about it. I haven't had anything through the post. I don't think they informed the public very well."

Retired Dave Mott, 61, from Orpington, said: "I have just been speaking to one of the consultants here who said the theatres will be mothballed and new ones will be built at QMS as they haven't got the facilities there.

"This defeats the object of saving money. They spent more than £8 million improving Orpington, they claim closing the theatres will save them £1 million and then they are going to spend millions building new facilities at QMS."

Pharmacy worker Marilyn Hodge, 33, from Welling, said: "I think it is sad as we provide a really good service.

"Going to QMS will mean a lot of travelling, especially for the elderly and they might not be able to have transport.

"This is a good hospital. It works well. Patients are happy here.

"All the hospital workers are very sad because it is like a little family."

Orpington Hospital will continue to provide outpatients, hydrotherapy, diagnostic tests and intermediate care.

Line-dancing teacher Julie Mott, 61, from Orpington, who had a hip replacement at the hospital seven weeks ago, said: "Bromley NHS Trust needs to be shaken up. They have done something wrong and they are making somebody else pay for it.

"They built this because the Princess Royal University Hospital couldn't cope.

"QMS aren't happy about it but they will not admit it.

"They are massacring the NHS. They need to get rid of some of the managers who are earning a lot of money. There is no continuity. Every manager that has come in has a different idea. If you have no continuity, it is never going to work.

"The public are not as gullible as they think they are. We are going to carry on."

Christine Taylor, 52, of Glentrammon Avenue, Orpington, received hydrotherapy and physiotherapy at the hospital to recover from the paralysing Guillain-Barré syndrome.

She said: "I had to learn to walk again. I feel the hospital has been a big benefit to me. Once one thing goes at the hospital, it just snowballs and everything goes.

"I think it will be a farce. We know the money will not get saved. It will just

be squandered."

A hospital worker from the Mackenzie ward came down to tell the protesters they were fantastic but said staff had been told not to talk to the press.

She told them: "It is great. £99 million of debt and they claim closing this is going to save them £1 million. It is a drop in the ocean."

Staff at the hospital have already got 900 signatures for a petition to stop the transfer. A spokesman for A Picture of Health was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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