Shipston fundraisers refuse to support hospital redevelopment without inpatient beds and demand their money back
The Ellen Badger Hospital League of Friends (LoF) has stalled on support for the plan which only a year ago promised a new building with inpatient beds, a GP surgery and a health and wellbeing hub. They handed over the money to fund a land purchase to for the project but say it was conditional on a replacement hospital with beds.
Approval of plans for a 'new, enhanced inpatient facility' were published in the Banbury Guardian in 2018 - see this article.
But over the past year the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) has decided the redevelopment should be done in two phases, the first being without any inpatient beds. The trust said this week the LoF gave the money to 'enhance the 'health and wellbeing services available to the population of Shipston .
Bryan Stoten of the LoF said there was a moral obligation to demand the return of the money which was donated specifically towards the redevelopment of an inpatient hospital. The contributions included a number of legacies. He presents the LoF case in a YouTube video on this page.
"We've wasted three years since 2018. We bought them the land to rebuild the hospital at a time when NHS CEO Simon Stevens was saying it was time to 'reinvent the cottage hospital'. It was understood and unambiguous," said Mr Stoten, formerly chairman of Birmingham Health Authority.
"There followed three years of John Cleese meetings that never went anywhere and then last May SWFT produced the architect-designed plan for the new hospital, a GP practice and a health and wellbeing hub. The League of Friends applauded this and argued how many beds there should be; they said 18 - 20 but we wanted 30.
"But within a couple of months that had been dropped and SWFT said wanted to 'phase' it and it would be the hub and GP surgery first. GPs had been encouraged to give up their plan to exploit an acre of land they'd been given to come onto the EBH site instead.
"Phase two hadn't been approved by SWFT's board and couldn't be guaranteed. The CEO said we shouldn't fundraise for the redevelopment because there was no guarantee there would be an EBH. They then us took the League of Friends off the project board because they said they wouldn't be discussing the hospital 'at that point'," said Mr Stoten.
Mr Stoten said the League had not received papers, minutes or agendas for months. He said SWFT was no longer calling it a hospital but the Ellen Badger 'site'.
"People are pretty upset," he said. "It's only ten months since we were all agreed about what was happening. They keep floating around this 'bed review'. We were told it would be published in March but still hasn't been. We think they'll say there are too many community beds in the county."
Mr Stoten said if the inpatient unit did not materialise the 40 Ellen Badger Hospital staff would have to be redeployed to Leamington or Stratford or made redundant.
A press statement released by SWFT said: "It is with huge regret that we... have been drawn into a public disagreement with the LoF of Ellen Badger Hospital, however in response to the video we must clarify misleading and inaccurate statements.
"The Trust has been fully transparent regarding the reasons we are developing the site in two phases. The LoF continue to refer back to original plans, made before external factors became apparent. Please see our latest update (March 2021) which clearly outlines the reasons why a two phased approach is the only option we can pursue and also details what facilities will be available after phase 1 to enhance healthcare provision for the local community: https://www.swft.nhs.uk/application/files/9316/1667/2071/March_2021_-_Ellen_Badger_development_-_Digital.pdf"We have been approached by the League of Friends solicitors regarding the retraction of their donation. Glen Burley, Chief Executive of SWFT has... made it clear that we have not engaged the Trust’s solicitors at this point as he does not feel it is a good use of NHS or charitable funding to do so.
"We are still awaiting a response from the LoF to our rebuttal. We do not know what funds the LoF are using to support this legal challenge and their wider campaign against the Trust but we are determined to channel as much resource as we can into the project itself.
"The piece of land the Trust purchased thanks to a legacy left to the LoF, was never going to be used to develop the hospital on. This piece of land sits mainly on a flood plain and from very early on in the planning it was agreed to be used as a car park. This proposal was approved by the Project Board of which Bryan Stoten... was a member of and fully supported.
"When the LoF gifted the money the condition they set was that it would be used to ‘enhance the health and wellbeing services available to the population of Shipston on Stour and surrounding areas’. "It is our main ambition to do just this and we feel confident the plan we have meets the clause of the grant.
"The modernisation of the hospital as part of phase 1 will include a Health and Wellbeing Centre. This was made possible by a generous legacy left to the LoF of Stratford Hospital from Percy Lomas. The Shipston LoF were beneficiaries of the same legacy. We are grateful to the LoF of Stratford Hospital that they have supported our plans and moved quickly to put this money to use. The success of the Lomas Suite in Stratford has been a key driver for us to develop something similar at Ellen Badger and provide communities in Shipston and the surrounding villages the same level of Health and Wellbeing provision, however currently the LoF have confirmed they do not wish to release this funding for Phase 1.
"At no point has any charitable funding been given to Shipston Medical Centre. Unfortunately the LoF took the view that unless the inpatient area was included in the first phase they would not continue involvement and stepped down from the relevant meetings and withdrew their offer to fundraise."