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Paper 6 - 29 January 1999 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE & ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

29 January, 1999

THE CLOSURE OF THE ROYAL HOSPITAL HASLAR

Joint Report prepared by Malcolm Crocker, Chief Executive, Gosport Borough Council on behalf of Gosport and Fareham Borough Councils, Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council

RECOMMENDATION

That the Association of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Authorities support the preparation of a Business Case to retain the Royal Hospital Haslar as a Civilian and Military Hospital in an appropriate form.

BACKGROUND

1. Haslar Hospital in Gosport treated its first patients in 1753 and has taken Navy and Marine casualties from every conflict since the Battle of Trafalgar. Today, Haslar treats approximately 110,000 patients a year, 80% of whom are civilians from the Gosport and Fareham area. The Accident and Emergency Department handles 21,000 cases a year of whom 6,000 are children.

2. Despite this emphasis on civilian patients and Accident and Emergency provision, since 1995 the Hospital has been the sole tri-service hospital for the Defence Medical Services. About half the beds within the Defence Medical Service are currently located at Haslar.

3. On the 14th December, 1998, the Government announced that "Haslar should close as soon as suitable and practicable alternative arrangements can be made to take over its current functions. This is unlikely to be before 2002."

4. This announcement had already been anticipated by Hampshire County Council on the 1st October, 1998. It passed the following resolution:

"That the County Council continues to press the Ministry of Defence to secure the future of Haslar Hospital, Gosport, as a medical facility for both the Ministry of Defence and the National Health Service."

COMMENTARY

5. The justification for this decision revolves around the Strategic Defence Review and the need for a more flexible Defence Medical Service. The Service has been experiencing deep seated problems. The closure of Haslar is seen as necessary as part of a re-deployment of resources. Part of the re-deployment could be the establishment of a 'Centre of Excellence for Defence Medicine' located alongside a major NHS Hospital. A leading possibility is the creation of such a centre alongside the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham linked to an expansion of that Hospital through a Private Finance Initiative.

6. The Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Health Authority have long had reservations about the service provided to NHS patients at Haslar and do not appear opposed to the MOD decision. They are clearly attracted by the prospect of additional investment at Queen Alexandra and consider that adequate alternative provision can be made for Gosport and Fareham. Accident and Emergency cover could be re-provided in some form in Gosport but without the backup of a major hospital.

7. Local Authorities in the area are concerned about the ability of the Queen Alexandra Hospital to cope with the influx of new patients, the ability to provide adequate Accident and Emergency cover in Gosport once Haslar closes, the poor communication with the Queen Alexandra Hospital, the loss of 530 civilian and 800 Military jobs in Gosport and the ability to keep appropriate services going as the Hospital contracts in the short and medium term. It is also considered that there is a strong case to be made for retaining Haslar as the 'Centre of Excellence for Defence Medicine' and it is worth noting that large amounts of money have been invested in Haslar over the past few years in order to enhance its potential.

A task force of interested parties including representatives of the Local Authorities identified in this joint report has been established to take things forward.

THE CAMPAIGN

8. Appended to this report is a position statement agreed at a special meeting of Gosport Borough Council on the 21st December, 1998. Work is now well underway on building up a strong business case for retaining appropriate provision in Gosport and Fareham based at Haslar. The position statement sets out the basis of the case which is being pursued. A major march/rally is being organised as part of an all-party campaign on the 24th January in Gosport.

HIOW SUPPORT

9. The decision to close Haslar Hospital will clearly have a major effect on a significant part of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area and support for the campaign is sought from the Association.

MALCOLM CROCKER
Chief Executive, Gosport Borough Council

ANNEX

ROYAL HOSPITAL HASLAR

POSITION STATEMENT

At an Extraordinary meeting on Monday 21 December 1998 the Borough Council expressed deep concern at the proposal by the Secretary of State for Defence to close the Royal Hospital Haslar and resolved as follows:

1.

That a letter be forwarded to the Secretary of State for Defence expressing the Borough Council's deep concern at the proposal to close the Royal Hospital Haslar and requesting that a review of this decision be undertaken.

2.

That a letter be forwarded to the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Health Authority requesting to be consulted, at an early stage, on the medical services to be retained in Gosport particularly in relation to the need for a comprehensive Accident and Emergency facility linked to a Children's' Unit.

3.

That a Leadership Group comprising the Leaders of the four Political Groups on the Borough Council and Local Member of Parliament be established and authorised to set up an all party "Task Force" comprising other appropriate agencies with a view to examining alternative proposals which are viable and meet the requirements of the local community and Ministry of Defence.

4.

That arrangements be made for an official bank account to be opened with the Council's bank to enable interested persons to make donations in support of the Campaign to retain the Royal Hospital Haslar. The spending of this fund will be subject to scrutiny by the Borough's Honorary Aldermen and Borough Treasurer.

5.

That the Borough Council confirms its commitment to organise the march/rally on Walpole Park on Sunday 24 January 1999 to enable local people to formally protest at the proposed closure of the Royal Hospital Haslar. Public meetings will also be organised as necessary.

The Council is fully aware that this decision has been made on the basis that the Queen Alexandra Hospital complex in Portsmouth will be developed (under a PFI Scheme) and will incorporate an MOD Unit. However, the Borough Council does not believe that this decision has been made with the best interests of the residents of Gosport, Fareham, Portsmouth or Havant. The site at Cosham is already difficult to access with inadequate public transport and poor parking. The problems the residents already experience with a lack of and inconsiderate parking by visitors to the hospital will be exacerbated further.

The proposal, if approved, will also result in the people of Gosport and Fareham having to meet the additional costs of travelling to and from the hospital. Furthermore, the residents of Gosport, Fareham, Portsmouth and Havant will all be disadvantaged as waiting lists undoubtedly increase.

The Borough Council accepts that changes to the Defence Medical Service are necessary and welcomes the Health Authority's commitment to work alongside the Defence Secondary Care Agency in order to improve patient care generally. With this in mind the Council believes that the Royal Hospital Haslar should be retained and managed jointly with QA as a NHS facility with an MOD Unit attached to compliment the existing facilities at QA and St Mary's.

The Borough Council is seeking the support of the Councils of Portsmouth, Fareham and Havant and Hampshire County Council to this position statement and to working closely with the Borough Council to achieve its aim of seeking a review of the decision to close the Royal Hospital Haslar.

Since this position statement was produced the Councils involved have agreed that the strategy for retaining Haslar should be on the basis of the hospital being jointly managed NHS/MOD facility.

Last update: 21/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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