Fight to stop the closure of vital ward

My mother was recently a patient in the Oker Ward at Whitworth Hospital.

I and my family would like to thank the nurses, the auxiliaries, the cleaners, the orderlies, the cooks, the doctors, the pharmacists, the volunteers and all the other staff for their care and devotion. The professionalism, the attention to detail, the kindness, and the general level of care, in the widest sense of the word, shown to my mother, family, and friends was second to none.

These thoughts are not solely sentimental rather they are also observations based on my lifetime spent working in health care in many countries.

Quite simply, my mother received the best care available anywhere. So it was with sadness that I heard Oker Ward is under threat of closure. I understand there have been letters written and a bed-push protest.

Yet these threats of closure persist with the alternative models likely to lead to hardship and difficulties for local patients and their families.

Where I live in New Zealand, we had a similar issue with a threatened closure of a local health care facility.

We were told by bureaucrats the decision to close was final. Savings made by the health authorities were clearly going to be far more outweighed by the vast inconveniences to patients, families, and the local community.

Protest and intensive lobbying were orchestrated by the local newspaper, which not only reports on, but also traditionally deeply supports the local community. The pressure was so great that bureaucrats were forced to change their plans and we have all subsequently benefitted.

Often in life we do not realise what great things we have until they are gone. Oker Ward, in my opinion, is an integral part of the local community.

Its closure would be a severe loss to that community and once gone it would be very difficult to get it back.

It is not too late to scupper plans for the Oker Ward closure but it does require a plan of attack, a plan which could be led by local dignitaries, social groups, and, of course, the Matlock Mercury.

Dr David Baker

(General Practitioner),

Dunedin, New Zealand

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