Hospital closure 'not being taken seriously'
A PROMINENT health campaigner has expressed concern that the closure of a community hospital in Madron is not being taking seriously after it was left off a Cornwall Council committee's agenda.
Graham Webster, from Health Initiative Cornwall, had requested that the health and adults overview and scrutiny committee (OSC) consider at its meeting on March 5 whether the closure of Poltair Hospital represented "a substantial change of service".
If the committee had answered the call, which was backed by other campaigners and St Ives MP Andrew George, it could have led to a public consultation, and potentially to the hospital reopening.
However, a council spokeswoman confirmed this week the item had not been placed on the agenda as it had already been agreed and there were two other items specifically mentioning Poltair.
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The matter can still be brought up in other business or after the items discussing Poltair but Mr Webster, and Heamoor councillor Mario Fonk, who sits on the committee, said they were concerned that it might not be enough.
Mr Webster said: "It's been said we're considered to be troublemakers; that is really sad. I wouldn't raise these issues if I didn't know the NHS inside out.
"These people need to listen to what people are saying, because only then will they be aware of the difficulties and the problems we've got.
"At the moment we have underlying problems. I feel that people in positions of power are not taking this seriously."
Poltair, which still offers an outpatient service, has been closed to in-patients since October.
Operator Peninsula Community Health had said staffing issues were behind the temporary closure and has since recruited 16 nurses, but the hospital remains closed.
The community interest company has now said it will not reopen the hospital until new commissioning body NHS Kernow, which takes over from the Primary Care Trust in April, completes a review.
Fears have been raised that the closure of the community hospital has contributed to the bed-blocking affecting the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT).
It was revealed earlier this week that 32 patients were unable to vacate beds despite being fit enough because aftercare was not available.
Mr Fonk, who said he intended to raise the item at the OSC meeting, said it was a concerning situation.
"This should have been put on the agenda," he said.
"We've lost 48 beds in community hospitals in six months."
A council spokeswoman said: "The request for it to be included on the agenda came after the agenda had been agreed and as there are already two other items which specifically mention Poltair – a report on community hospitals and the review by the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group on health provision in West Cornwall – it was agreed that it would not be added as a separate urgent item."
The Cornishman was unabled to make contact with OSC chairman Sue Nicholas before it went to press.