Villages have no voice in hospital consultation
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has written to John Wilderspin, the Chief Executive of the West Sussex Primary Care Trust, to raise concerns that many of the towns and villages in his constituency are being “left without a voice” in the current consultation on the future of West Sussex’s hospitals.
The MP's letter follows the PCT's announcement of the dates and locations for the 18 public meetings that are due to be held across the county as part of the Fit for the Future consultation process.
Only one village in the whole of the Arundel & South Downs constituency - Pulborough - is scheduled to have a public meeting to discuss the Primary Care Trust's plans to downgrade two of the county's three acute hospitals. This is despite the fact that many of the constituency's communities are those that will be most affected by any downgrading or loss of acute services.
In his letter, Nick Herbert wrote:
"I am writing on behalf of a large number of my constituents to express my concern that their towns and villages are not included in the list of 18 public meetings scheduled to take place during the Fit for the Future consultation period.
"I cannot understand why Pulborough, with a population of around 5,000 people, should be included in the list, yet Angmering, Hassocks, Henfield, Hurstpierpoint and Steyning, all with at least the same population and in many cases somewhat larger, have been left out.
"Places such as Arundel, Upper Beeding, Storrington and West Chiltington may be slightly smaller than Pulborough, but are nevertheless important and discrete communities which ought to have their own meetings.
"Since many of my constituents are elderly I am concerned that they will be left without a voice. Yet these are the very people who could be most affected by increased travel times if hospitals are downgraded and acute services become less accessible to them.
"I appreciate that it will not be possible to hold meetings in every village in West Sussex, but I do feel that the larger villages or small towns in my constituency merit individual meetings.
"My constituents already believe, in my view with considerable justification, that the Primary Care Trust is not truly interested in their views and is going through the motions of consultation. The exclusion of their communities from the list of public meetings will reinforce this perception. I would be grateful to know what plans you have to redress this situation and ensure that their voice is heard.
"In view of the public interest in this matter I am releasing this letter to the press."
Notes for Editors
1. The full list of public meetings, as scheduled by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust, can be found at: http://www.westsussex.nhs.uk/about-us/fff-nextsteps/fit-for-the-future/meeting-dates/
2. The population of towns, villages and parishes in the Arundel & South Downs constituency is as follows:
South Stoke Parish
Lyminster and Crossbush
Bury and West Burton
Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common