Worksop people were urged to fight to save their hospital from becoming an “outskirts operation” at a meeting on Saturday.
The Miners Welfare Institute on Gateford Road in the town was packed for the meeting, organised by Bassetlaw MP John Mann.
He accused both the PCT and hospital trust of using “city-based logic” to bring Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals together, and of turning the Bassetlaw site into nothing more than a “cottage hospital”.
“It is quite clear that the hospital has a vision that involves a superb hospital in Doncaster and a cottage hospital in Bassetlaw,” he told the meeting.
He warned that the plans for the hospital include transferring children’s A&E provision and specialist maternity care to Doncaster, leaving Bassetlaw with a midwife led service.
Acute care for stroke victims has already been transferred to Doncaster. NHS Bassetlaw argues it will mean better quality care for stroke sufferers.
But Mr Mann disagreed, saying time was off the essence when dealing with a stroke, and the extra journey time to Doncaster was unacceptable. He also highlighted the extra pressures that would be placed on the ambulance service as a result.
“We are already seeing that the ambulance service can’t cope with transferring people between the two sites,” continued Mr Mann.
“The NHS evidence is that the further you move the A&E away from people, the fewer people that go.”
“When you notice that your child has got spots and you worry it could be meningitis, you go to A&E because that’s what you pay your taxes for, for you and your family.”
“They are using a city-based logic on how to bring hospital sites together.”
David Liggins, the new chairman of the PCT also spoke at the meeting.
He acknowledged that there had been some shortcomings in the review process to date, and promised more transparency as it continues.
“The way in which the review has been handled so far isn’t as good as it could have been,” he said.
“My intention is to be transparent, open and to talk to people about it.”
He told the meeting that the A&E at Bassetlaw Hospital was designed to cope with 15,000 patients a year, but is currently seeing 45,000 - three times the amount.
“Would we close that down or try and make it cope with the larger number of people using it?” he continued.
“There is no intention, if I have any influence at all, of closing A&E. But we need to make adjustments.”
“There is currently only one cubicle for kids in A&E. Why should we have one standard for one hospital and one for another?”
“We are under no obligation to accept this report. If you disagree with it, then it won’t happen.”
“Doncaster and Bassetlaw are two separate hospitals rather than one hospital.”
He added: “We need the skills of people at Doncaster here and vice versa, and if a patient can’t get there, the consultant should come here.”
Mr Mann welcomed the new chairman’s promise of transparency going forward, but maintained that if the recommendations in the report were implemented, Bassetlaw Hospital would become nothing more than an “outskirts operation”.
He continued: “The staff think they are cutting Bassetlaw Hospital to ribbons piece by piece.”
“The model is for a nine to five service at Bassetlaw and an out of hours service at Doncaster. People will get specialist treatment in Doncaster and then come back to a bed in Bassetlaw’s cottage hospital.”
At the end of the meeting Mr Mann handed out application forms and urged residents to fill them in and join the hospital trust.
By joining the trust they will get a direct say in electing the members of the board, which, along with the PCT, makes the big decisions.
He added: “We want volunteers because when the consultation takes place in May we want to make sure that everyone has their say and everyone’s voices are heard.”
“We’ll beat them because the proposals for Bassetlaw Hospital are wrong, badly thought out, badly consulted on and seek to downgrade our hospital by cut after cut.”
“If they want to pick a fight, they’ve picked a fight with the wrong community.”