For what seems like years we have argued that the subject of health in this area needs to be examined as a whole, not piecemeal.
For example, while as a newspaper we make no excuses for reporting on the travails (as well as the successes) at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, such as the accident and emergency department delays and the issues surrounding bed-blocking, our long-held view is that these problems are not caused by the hospital alone.
Yes, QA could probably do better – a view that a critical report by the Care Quality Commission has made clear. But any health professional will tell you that the links between different parts of the health sector are crucial.
So for example, if there were more GPs, and they were available out of hours more, patients would stand more chance of getting an appointment, and so would not turn up at casualty with minor ailments. Likewise with walk-in centres – while it’s all very well telling someone who lives in Paulsgrove or Cosham that they should take a cut hand to St Mary’s Hospital, why would you head into the city when QA is on your doorstep?
And so we greet today’s news that MP Suella Fernandes is pushing for a minor injuries unit, or walk-in centre by any other name, to be opened at Fareham Community Hospital, with a cautious – but heartfelt – welcome.
It’s heartfelt because this area needs extra health resources of all shapes and sizes. It’s cautious because as has been said about the situation in the past, ‘the NHS can’t fund everything’.
While we accept that we can’t expect every wish to come true in a time of austerity, it’s an inarguable fact that the community hospital which, lest we forget, only opened six years ago, is under-used given its potential. Politicians have said for years that they want to see more services there, and we agree.
Everyone who lives in this area knows that QA is crucial to our health. But it isn’t the be-all and end-all, as many people simply don’t need to be there. If they could instead go to another walk-in centre, then so much the better.