Two letters were recently published in the Gazette commenting on the Save Our Hospital petition handed to me on behalf of the Kennet and North Wiltshire Primary Care Trust.

The letters give different reasons for the petition. One states the petition was presented because of the closure of the hospital and the other speaks of it being organised to stop the closure of one ward and the overnight closure of minor injuries as from October 1.

Coun Jane Burton's letter spoke of the petition in terms of the closure of Devizes Community Hospital and used the words "totally ludicrous and insulting" when referring to my statement on receiving the petition. I refute these remarks.

First, at no time has the Primary Care Trust stated that the hospital is to close.

As I stated on the day, we have already clearly set out in our Strategic Direction paper, which was adopted by the board on May 22, there are no plans to close Devizes Hospital. Rather, it is our clearly stated intention to enhance services by bringing in a number of changes which we believe will improve health services.

The petition was headed "Save our hospital" and, as that is also the reasoning behind the Primary Care Trust's recent months of consultation, we therefore accepted the petition as a sign of support for our proposals to develop services at Devizes Hospital.

Second, Coun Burton offers an alternative to a new build hospital for Devizes, namely Southgate House.

She states this could be transformed into a very good up-to-date modern hospital with unlimited facilities.

Unfortunately this is not the case. As part of the Devizes Hospital requirements study, CMS (Bath) Ltd (Architects) stated that the accommodation required for a community hospital would not fit into Southgate House unless a sizeable extension was built, which would compromise the car parking available.

I doubtful the residents of Pans Lane would be receptive to such a solution.

In respect of Mrs Gillett's letter I can only repeat that the plan for Devizes Hospital is to enhance services by bringing in a number of changes to improve health services. By 2005 Devizes will have a new hospital, which will combine NHS intensive rehabilitation beds and a nursing home and will also include intermediate care services paid for by the NHS.

A primary care centre will be developed with a base for out-of-hours access to GP and district nursing services.

As agreed at the board meeting on May 22, from October 2003 the minor injuries unit walk-in facilities will operate from 8am to 10pm with an intention that in future an minor injuries unit walk-in service will be provided within Primary Care.


Chief Executive

Kennet and North Wiltshire

Primary Care Trust