G5 ward campaign reaches front door of Prime Minister

HANDOVER From left, campaigners Will Purvis, Darren Sanders, Mike Hancock MP, News health reporter Rachel Hawthorn and Michael Andrewes.     Picture: Malcolm Wells (111245-9832)
HANDOVER From left, campaigners Will Purvis, Darren Sanders, Mike Hancock MP, News health reporter Rachel Hawthorn and Michael Andrewes. Picture: Malcolm Wells (111245-9832)
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CAMPAIGNERS against the controversial closure of an end-of-life care ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital have handed in a 10,000-signature petition to the Prime Minister.

Members of the Save G5 Campaign Group went to Downing Street yesterday in protest at the shutting of the G5 ward for over-65s.

Joined by Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock, the group delivered five folders-worth of signatures to No10 in the hope that it would bring the issue to David Cameron’s attention.

They want to emphasise the anger against the ward closure to the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who has recently been handed a report by an independent inquiry panel about the G5 issue. He is now reviewing that report and has to make a decision about what action, if any, should be taken.

Will Purvis, one of the organisers of the Save G5 Campaign Group, said: ‘We hope that by taking our message right to the heart of the government in Downing Street we can bring the issue to the forefront of the Prime Minister’s attention and the Health Secretary.

‘It’s important Mr Lansley understands the strength of feeling from people, patients’ families and staff at the hospital, while he reviews the panel’s report.

‘We’re hopeful he will reverse the decision, make the hospital reopen the ward and at least carry out a proper consultation and let the people of Portsmouth have their say on this important issue.’

Mr Hancock, who has spoken out against the ward closure from the start, has submitted a parliamentary motion backing the campaign and asked that the ward is reopened. He said: ‘This was a greatly valued and appreciated ward at QA.

‘Due to an ageing population, this will be needed even more in the future. The massive response to the petition shows how much local people are concerned about the closure.’

The G5 ward closed in September and was replaced by a mobile nurse team.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, said only 25 per cent of patients over 65 were getting access to G5. It said it wanted to make the ‘G5 service’ available to all patients.

But it later admitted money had been a factor in the decision and it came at a time when the trust was looking to reduce the number of beds.

Hospital bosses also said it cost £350 to run a bed on G5, compared to £250 for a bed on another ward.

Health body raised questions over the closure

THE closure of the ward was brought into question when Portsmouth City Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel wrote to the government because it had not been consulted about the ‘substantial’ change to service.

The hospital trust argued that it was a ‘reconfiguration’ of the service and that it had consulted the people it needed to.

Health Secretary Mr Lansley then instructed the independent reconfiguration panel – an independent expert on NHS service change – to investigate.

That panel carried out a three-month review of the closure and the impact it has had on patient care.

It met hospital staff, hospital bosses, councillors, MPs, patients and anyone who wanted to have their say.

It submitted its report to the Health Secretary on March 31.

Mr Lansley is expected to make a decision about the G5 issue in the next few weeks.