The Friends of Savernake Hospital, already applauded for their fund-raising and activities in supporting Marlborough’s cottage hospital, are still looking for innovative ways to play further roles in the community.
As the NHS faces an uncertain future, chairman Paul Lefever appealed at the 55th annual meeting at Marlborough town hall for “new ideas” that can be evaluated and possibly put into action in the coming months.
“We need your help, your ideas,” he told members. “Do come forward and tell us what you think. There must be new ideas we can adapt in the future.”
His report revealed how the Friends had bought specialist equipment for Savernake, local clinics, surgeries and the community itself with the installation of 10 defibrillators, six of them for Marlborough itself with volunteers about to be trained by the Community Heartbeat organisation.
“It may make the difference between life and death for someone,” he pointed out.
Funding has been provided for the four Links units in Marlborough, Bedwyn, Pewsey and Collingbourne in transporting patients to treatment centres, some of which were in danger of closing.
“Here in East Wiltshire we live in the main in a quite widely dispersed rural community,” said Mr Lefever. “We are not well served by public transport and journeys to the large hospitals can involve waiting around at bus stops and having to change buses with all the inconvenience and stress that this involves.”
“Getting to a hospital for a one hour visit and back can take all day. It is therefore not too surprising that the majority of journeys that people make to hospital are by private car or taxi but with the increasing price of fuel and other pressures on family budgets this is becoming more difficult and in some cases, is verging on the impossible.”
“One of the aims of the Friends therefore is to help to bring medicine to the people rather than people having to go to the medicine. How much better it would be if we could limit much of the need to travel for treatment to short journeys within the community.”
The aim was to move more diagnosis and treatment out into the community, which would reduce stress, inconvenience and cost with the bonus of helping to reduce the carbon footprint.
Providing mobile centres for treatment was also under investigation. “With renewed government emphasis on treating patients in their own home, perhaps we should look again to see how we might work with the NHS in helping to provide something of this nature – to bring medicine to the people,” he said.
He made a presentation to retiring treasurer Kate Way, who revealed that income for the year amounted to £11,945, including interest from an £80,000 investment. Expenditure hit £36,384.
“Kate has managed our financial affairs most splendidly,” declared Mr Lefever.
Questions had been tabled at the meeting by absent Savernake activist Val Compton, who said that the 50,000 people living in the Savernake Hospital’s catchment area were still missing local treatment for minor injuries.
Mrs Compton, who led the unsuccessful campaign to save Savernake’s own minor injuries unit, suggested “exploring a community based service”.
Great Western’s chairman, Bruce Laurie, answered that the catchment area size was the key factor in creating a viable minor injuries unit, but added: “Certainly we are willing to embrace discussion to see what can be achieved.”