HENLEY is united behind the Save Our Beds campaign.
Doctors and other experts have joined residents and town councillors in demanding that the 18 beds originally promised for the new Townlands Hospital are delivered.
The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is planning to axe the 14-bed Peppard ward and pay for the use of just five beds at the care home which will also be part of the redevelopment.
Instead it wants to introduce ambulatory care, where patients are treated without the need for overnight stays, and to establish a multi-disciplinary unit from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, offering a range of day services.
This means that there will be no beds at all at Townlands for at least six months from November when the existing hospital is prepared for demolition. There are only 10 days to go until the public consultation on the proposals ends so it?s vital that everyone has their say now. You can:
• Sign the Henley Standard?s Save Our Beds petition that is printed in this week?s paper and is also available at the hospital and many shops in the town centre, or can be downloaded here
• Show the strength of feeling by attending the public meeting to be held at the town hall on Tuesday at 7.30pm or the one to be held at the sports pavilion in Stoke Row Road, Peppard, on Thursday at 7pm. A representative from the commissioning group will be at both.
• Respond to the commissioning group?s formal consultation by calling 01865 334638, emailing email@example.com or visiting www.consult.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk
You can also write to the Henley Standard or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier, who was one of the first people to sign the petition, said: ?I?m supporting the campaign because it?s about what we want.
?We were promised the 18 beds at the hospital and we fought to have this model. It?s important that we stick to that.? The Townlands Steering Group passed a resolution at a meeting on Monday, stating: ?Due to the fact that the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has failed to prove its case for change, we propose that the 18 beds and services as in the original business case are retained and put into the new hospital now.
?After the beds are put in the commissioning group should produce a new comprehensive plan for consultation.
?The Townlands Steering Group will continue to engage with the commissioning group on its proposals for services at Townlands.?
Town councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, a member of the steering group, said: ?The 18 beds should be provided as per the original plan. The commissioning group has not convinced Henley with the new model of care. People in Henley and the surrounding parishes have universally rejected the idea of a loss of beds, so we must fight for them.?
John Clarke, who spent eight weeks in Townlands in 2013 after breaking his leg, said: ?How they can justify cutting the beds to five is beyond me. The whole time I was there the beds were nearly always full.?
The 80-year-old retired photographer, of Reading Road, Henley, said he had received ?excellent? care at the hospital.
?The staff were very kind and understanding,? he said.
His wife Raelene, 64, said: ?Local people like us are the ones who are going to suffer.
?If John hadn?t been able to go to Townlands he would have ended up at the Royal Berks, which would have been a real journey.
?I could walk to Townlands from our home and so could all our friends. It?s such a brilliant facility and to lose the beds would be just dreadful for local people.
?How can they renege on something they?ve promised us all that time ago? It?s not on.?
Lady Catherine Stewart, a recently retired GP, whose 86-year-old father lives in Henley, said: ?I feel the residents of Henley have been duped out of a lovely new hospital that they?ve waited years for.
?As a GP, I am worried about the beds. How is there going to be a hospital but nothing in place to go in it?
?I would liken it to the story of the Emperor?s New Clothes. Henley people think they are getting a robust new hospital and what they are really getting is a white elephant building with two out of three floors now empty and ready to be used for anything other than rehabilitation beds.
?The clinical commissioning group is telling us this is what we all want, deserve and need. They will always be able to shout down any non-medical attendees at meetings and refute anything they suggest. I feel this is all a bit of a done deal.?
There are petitions at Townlands Hospital, the Henley Standard/Higgs Group office in Station Road, In The Groove in Reading Road, Boatique, Hot Gossip and Boutique 97 in Friday Street, Laurence Menswear, Upstairs & Downstairs and Helen and Douglas House in Duke Street, Starbucks in Market Place, White Gdn in Hart Street, Bagatelle Toys and the Bell Street Bookshop in Bell Street and Asquiths in New Street.