Patients must be priority

The saga of the proposed new hospital to replace Berwick Infirmary continues, but at what cost and to what avail?

Friday, 10th August 2018, 09:00 am
Updated Thursday, 9th August 2018, 10:03 am

Over the past few years, plans for the new hospital have been on display at various venues in and around Berwick. These venues were always manned by NHS personnel.

The cost of the whole exercise must have been considerable, and the final site for the new hospital has yet to be decided upon.

When such a site is finalised, fresh plans will probably be necessary at further expense to the NHS.

From a financial point of view, the NHS seems a bottomless pit and it is imperative that the money allocated to the NHS must be used carefully and wisely, with the emphasis on patients and patient care, which should be, and must be, at the top of the NHS pyramid.

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Patients are people, not faceless names on a computer screen.

The proposed hospital must not be an administrative/medical ivory tower, but should truly be a community hospital where patients can be assessed, treated and cared for, ideally by their own doctors, with easy accessibility to consultant opinion and advice.

The crunch question arises, can the cost of a new hospital at £25million be justified?

What medical services will be available there that are not available at the present Berwick Infirmary, where there has been a reduction in medical/nursing services?

I refer to the Day Hospital, Cheviot and Tweed wards, all of which are of relative recent construction and in good condition, but are no longer in use.

These units were focussed on the elderly. We are an aging population, with ever increasing demands on medical care, and I consider that money spent on re-opening and staffing these units again would be well rewarded in a variety of ways.

To name but two, firstly, it would relieve blockage of beds occupied by elderly patients in acute major hospitals, and secondly, provide palliative care for the terminally ill within easy travelling distance for relatives.

The NHS, of which I have always been a staunch supporter, was founded by Aneurin Bevan on July 5, 1948. His concept of an NHS was inspired by, and based upon, the Beveridge report, produced by Lord Beveridge, who was the MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency.

In 1948, Bevan said: “We shall never have all we need. Expectation will always exceed capacity. The service must always be changing, growing and improving – it must always appear inadequate.”

My comments, which are sincere, are intended to be constructive and not destructive, and will perhaps encourage others to voice their opinions also.

James Mitchell

Retired family doctor