A packed community centre listened attentively to the presentation by the director and deputy director of West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on the future of Milford War Memorial Hospital. As part of the League of Hospital Friends’ AGM, the guest speakers were the highlight of the afternoon.
Director Rachel King reviewed the history of the hospital and then spoke of future planning for it and for services in the wider area.
The NHS owns the hospital and site though not the medical centre. While recognising the hospital is valued by the community, it is assessed as not fit for modern purpose, and does not comply with current legislation on access, corridors and other matters. A recent survey concluded £700,000 would be needed just to bring it up to an acceptable standard. The hospital is 10% utilised, meaning that the NHS/taxpayers fund the non-productive 90% .
The CCG was impressed by the community’s strong response to their recent survey and open meetings. Currently, Milford at 31% has nearly twice the national average (17%) of residents aged over 65. The CCG strategy is for local services near home, though Lymington Hospital was a valuable resource, despite difficulties accessing it by public transport. Another problem is the difficulty people experience in affording to live in the district, and this impacts on availability of care support professionals.
The hospital offers a clinic for leg ulcer care, some optical services, exercise classes, and accommodation for a dialysis service. It could provide short term “step up / step down” facilities - beds for 6 weeks, to relieve the problem of delayed transfer out of acute hospitals. End-of-life-care was another possibility. The pharmacy was much valued, and the return of a phlebotomy service would be welcomed, and also local podiatry.
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The director envisaged the next steps would be to investigate needs; Hampshire County Council (HCC) was very interested in exploring with the CCG, and maybe Oakhaven, a care home facility on the site.
There were other options, based on population needs, which would have to be processed in stages, and formal planning processes observed. Schemes would have to be tested for affordability. It was difficult to give a timescale but the CCG undertook to continue working with the community and League of Hospital Friends.
Deputy director Catherine Bowell then reviewed current initiatives, including “Get Hampshire Walking”; “Time of Our Life” campaign, preparing for a heathy future; the new clinical pharmacist reviewing over 6,000 patients’ medication; the Frailty Support Team, and Dementia care.
Questions from the floor were then invited.
There was concern that the hospital building would continue to deteriorate before the 2021 start date for structural work, and there was a sense of disappointment that since 2005 nothing had really happened. It was hoped that there could be a plan of action for the near future, say the next 2-3 years.
The director confirmed that there was no intention to withdraw present services; the building was being maintained and kept safe, although there would be no major expenditure on it. Keeping the actual fabric of the building would be dependent on the next steps.
Strong feelings were expressed that there had been a lot of talk about processes but not much hope held out of a “date for first delivery”. The director said that there were several options to consider including working with HCC to develop a care home unit to address local needs.
There being no other questions, chairman Mrs Julie Badham thanked the CCG for their presentation, and the meeting concluded with light refreshments.