Fears that community hospital 'is being airbrushed from the future'
THE Labour Party in Erewash has reacted angrily after seeing there are no plans to discuss the future of Ilkeston Community Hospital at the town's next community forum meeting.
Councillors are annoyed that promises to talk about plans to reduce the number of beds at the hospital have been omitted from the agenda.
They say that at a meeting of the forum in September it was authorised to send a letter to Erewash MP Jessica Lee, demanding her active support to save beds.
And they say the council's head of services, Phil Wright, agreed to raise the matter with the associate health director, Tony Morkane.
But the agenda for the next meeting of the forum, which is due to take place on January 15, contains no mention of the hospital.
Councillor Glennice Birkin said: "A special note was made in the minutes about the actions requested by the forum, including the letter to the MP, and now it's as if the hospital has dropped off the edge of the world.
"Ilkeston people are not stupid – the writing on the wall points to plans to close Ilkeston Community Hospital in the teeth of opposition from local residents.
"It's a disgrace that something as important as the future of a hospital doesn't even feature on the agenda of the first community forum meeting in 2013.
"Is it being airbrushed from our town's heritage and future?"
In Derbyshire, there are 12 hospitals run by Derbyshire Community Health Services. These includes Ilkeston Community Hospital where, earlier this year, the trust said it wanted to reduce the number of beds from 36 to 20.
It said this was because improvements in the way it cared for its patients meant they were spending less time on wards and, as a result, the beds were not being used.
But concerns have been raised by campaigners that the move would affect patient care, was only being done to make savings and would lead to more closures.
Labour councillor Michelle Booth said: "Residents made the endeavour to collect signatures on a petition and attendees at a community forum exercised their democratic right of wishing to request help from their MP.
"The very least that they should expect is a full report on exactly what action has been taken and an update on exactly what the MP and associate health director have done in response. We expect written information to be provided on January 15."
The leader of Erewash Borough Council, Conservative councillor Chris Corbett, said: "The council has no influence on what is or isn't put on the agenda and this is a matter for the chairman of the community forum.
"I would assume that if Labour wish to discuss it they can raise it in the matters arising section of the meeting, just as all meetings of this type allow."