Fifty concerned health service users packed into Strutts Community Centre on Monday to take part in a public meeting on the future of NHS services in Belper and the surrounding area.
The meeting gave residents the chance to meet with representatives of the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Derbyshire Health Services, and hear arguments from campaigners worried that cuts to local services would ultimately affect patient care.
The CCG recently announced it was considering the future of Babington Hospital, which has been described as difficult to convert due to its size and age.
A petition, circulated at the meeting, stated: “We the undersigned believe that the people of Belper need good local healthcare facilities that offer hospital beds and respite care and other specialist services.
“This local provision should continue to lessen the pressure on Royal Derby. Any changes to the existing provision at Babington need to be as good if not better and should not be a reduction in provision brought about through the national NHS England Review, which is demanding financial cut backs.
Although we welcome home care, this needs to be properly resourced with appropriate hospital back up. Any changes to staffing must be done sensitively with no redundancies.”
At the meeting, Keith Venables, from Belper Keep Our NHS Public, expressed concern that the national NHS England Review would lead to significant cuts in local services, as well as worsening the contracts of junior doctors and all health staff.
However, Helen Dillistone and Mick Burrows from the CCG and William Jones from Derbyshire Health Services said no decision had yet been taken on the future of Babington Hospital.
It was reported that some members of the audience, however, felt that the closure was already a ‘done deal’.
Christine Jordan, who chaired the meeting, said the consultation process needed to be done ‘vigorously, based on real costings and real choices’.
A spokesperson for the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group told the Belper News last week: “We’ve been getting documentation together and we’re aiming to set up dates to open up public discussions in the next ten or 14 days.
“We’re just talking about how services are and what the population needs and following discussions and our analysis we can consider options in February.
“No decisions have been made but there will always be services for free at the point of access for Belper.”