Ahead of the meeting of Shropshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group on Thursday, 28 September, Tracey Huffer says the paperwork gives a gloomy prognosis for Ludlow Hospital. The Maternity Unit is closed. Services have been stripped out of the hospital. The commercially oriented NHS company, PropCo, wants to hike the rent. It costs more to run the few services left at Ludlow Community Hospital because health chiefs have left us with a half empty building.
Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East and a practising nurse, believes the writing is on the wall for Ludlow’s community hospital.
“We are witnessing the closure of Ludlow Community Hospital by stealth. I seriously worry that it will be closed altogether by this time next year. That will be a disaster for Ludlow and the rural southwest of the county.
“The maternity unit in Ludlow is already closed. The closure is said to be temporary but no one expects it to reopen. We may get antenatal and postnatal services in Ludlow, but pregnant mothers will have to go to Telford or Hereford. On a stormy winter night that is not going to be possible. Midwives will no longer work from the south of the county. We will see more babies born at home without medical supervision and on the A49 and A5.
“Bridgnorth community hospital is buzzing because it has more visiting consultants and services. Costs per patient have soared in Ludlow because the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH) no longer have ambitions to provide hospital-based health care in the rural southwest. Shropshire Community Health Trust, the body that runs the Ludlow Hospital, seems unwilling to promote our hospital as a vital and going concern.
“A few years ago, Health Visitors were based here. Now they are in Craven Arms. Our District Nurses will be moved from Ludlow Hospital to Craven Arms in the next few weeks. We used to have a rheumatology consultant visiting Ludlow Hospital. Now people must go to Hereford.
“The Minor Injuries Unit is slated for closure. This will clog up our overstretched A&E departments overnight and at weekends when GP practices are closed.
“Shropdoc will no longer have a base at Ludlow Hospital. If a child in Ludlow needs an urgent prescription for an asthma inhaler, that will be issued in Shrewsbury. This will lead to a surge in 999 calls for matters that should be treated locally.
“We have long been promised community health services in the southwest of the county. We are not getting them. All we are seeing is services sucked into Shrewsbury and Telford. Health managers are forcing elderly and infirm people to travel huge distances to have routine examinations and minor treatment.
“I fear that our community hospital is on the brink of closure. This should not happen. What we need is an urgent action plan from SaTH and the CCG to restore full services at Ludlow Community Hospital. To do any less, will consign tens of thousands of people who live in the rural southwest of the county to poorer services and poorer health.
“Health managers should be striving to improve rural health services, not finding excuses to close them.”