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News

Jeff James to take role with NHS in Wales

 

Jeff James, who resigned in October as chief executive of two local primary care trusts (PCTs), has accepted a new assignment with the NHS in Wales.  From January 2012, James (pictured) will be programme director for the partnership of six South Wales health boards, working on a twelve month contract.

The Welsh Health Secretary has ordered all Wales’ health boards to draw up plans by November 2012 for sustainable health services.  And James will be coordinating the southern partnership’s plans for those services which need a regional approach.

Jeff James was brought up in Wales and has previously worked in several capacities for the NHS in Wales.  The British coalition government’s complete restructuring of the NHS under the Health and Social Care Bill applies only to the NHS in England.

Jeff James became chief executive of NHS Wiltshire in 2006, and earlier this year was named chief executive of the Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) PCT – ahead of the merging (or ‘clustering’) of the two PCTs as part of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s restructuring process.

The leadership of the ‘clustered’ NHS Wiltshire and NHS BANES for the final year of the current regime – assuming the Health and Social Care Bill becomes law – has still to be settled.
 

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Watch the water you use with all that washing up to do at Christmas

With the prospect of all that washing up to do over  Christmas – and the New Year celebrations to come - now is definitely not the time to turn on the taps and keep them running.

The warning to conserve the precious water that comes out of the River Kennet at Marlborough as been repeated by Charlotte Hitchmough, director of Action River Kennet, the group that campaigns for one of England’s rare chalk streams.

For although recent rainfall has undoubtedly ended, at least temporarily, this year’s significant drought, the Kennet remains in danger, its water level hit by both extraction by Thames Water, which has launched its own Care for the Kennet campaign, and by drought.

“Rainfall over the winter will be critical to fill the aquifer enough  to keep the river flowing through next summer,” Charlotte told Marlborough News Online.  “In the meantime, we can all make a vital difference by using less water every day.”

“There are simple steps everyone can take -- just having a four-minute shower, swapping your showerhead for a water-efficient one, fixing dripping taps and making sure you don't run water while you clean your teeth, add up to making a difference.”

“The less water that comes out of your tap, the more will be left in the river.  And that includes Christmas.”

Eric Gilbert, who has run the Marlborough weather station since 1984, agrees.

“The total rainfall of 603mm for the 12 month period in November 2011 was the driest since June 1997, when it was 584mm,” he reports. “The record low is for the period ending in April 1997 with just 513mm.”

“The two driest months in 2011 were March with 12.7mm and April with 5.4mm. The total for 2011, up to December 19 has been 640.4mm.”

Fortunately, the total rainfall in recent days is encouraging – from December 11 to 19 it hit 55.7mm and last week, December 13 to 19, provided 25.9mm.

And more rain is forecast by the Met Office with light rain due during the daylight hours of Friday.

The Kennet has benefited, the run off raising the level by a couple of centimetres but only for a few hours.

“The overall river level remains at 2cm measured at the Pewsey Road bridge,” explained Charlotte.   “Usually the level is  between half a metre and a metre at this time of year.”

“The rain we need for the aquifer levels to recover, and for the river to be full again will take months.  If over the winter we had average rainfall plus about half again, the river would start to get back to where we'd like it to be.”

“Rainfall over the winter will be critical to fill the aquifer enough  to keep the river flowing through next summer.”

For more detailed information about Marlborough’s weather –

www.windrushweather.co.uk

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Council tax payers face precept increase of 20p a month reveals finance chairman

 

Twenty pence a month. That’s the size of the threat to council tax payers in Marlborough when the town council’s finance committee meets on Monday to consider the size of the precept for next year.

The Christmas promise comes from finance chairman Andrew Ross (pictured), who says that the low figure has brought about thanks to two factors in the council’s overall £404,227 total budget for the next financial year.

And he reveals that whether or not the increase is recommended for approval, that sum takes in the future annual cost of the town hall improvement project, which “scaremongering councillors” have falsely led residents to believe will land them with an immediate £1 million debt.

One is the fact that a small rise of 156 in Marlborough’s households – to a new total of 3,343 – automatically brings in an additional £10,000. And the other is that the current year’s budget has been under-spent by roughly £30,000, when the council had budgeted for an £8,000 surplus.

“So my committee will on Monday night be considering a very, very small increase of one per cent to the precept,”  Councillor Ross told Marlborough News Online.

“As a band D council taxpayer that would cost less than 20 pence a month, a very modest increase indeed.”

And it won’t go higher than that even if the current consultation exercise taking place until the end of the month on the £1 million town hall revamp project goes ahead -- because that cost is being spread over years to come by way of a government-backed public loan scheme.

“The way the improvement scheme is being presented by some councillors and local groups is totally misleading and is really just scaremongering,” protested former mayor Councillor Ross, a retired accountant.

“I do appreciate people’s concern when they see the leaflets that are being sent out.  However, the situation is being misrepresented.  If residents only came and talked to us, we can explain to them how the costs all fit into our budget.”

“And show them that their concerns are generally groundless. Can I sleep easily in my bed at night? I have no conscience worrying me over the effect of what we are doing.”

He pointed out that when the present group of councillors took charge of the town council’s budget five years ago they found the reserves had been reduced to a meagre £150,000 and had to place an embargo on spending for two years in order to restore the council’s reserves.

The reserves now currently stand at £284,000 in cash, a sum that is being maintained while the town hall improvement project has been going ahead, partly paid for by grants, which have restored the assembly hall as an attractive centre for events and created the new steps at the entrance.

The town council has now bought both a dishwasher and glass washer for the town hall kitchens, which makes them more attractive for events such as wedding receptions and conferences.

“Even if the consultation should prove negative, that simply means we won’t do anything dramatic,” added Councillor Ross.  “But there will still be a continuing programme of improvements.  And people won’t be worse off in their pocket either way.”

Where the town council will lose out is in the savings coming from letting the present High Street council office accommodation by moving its headquarters  back to the town hall rather waiting for another year to achieve the transfer.

“The other point is that going ahead with the improvement scheme is a substantial investment of £65,000 a year in the town that will provide jobs at a difficult time in the country’s economy,” declared Councillor Ross.

“It has always been the town council’s policy to use local labour almost exclusively.  We only go outside the town when there is no such employment available.”

“Our ambition is to improve the town hall and give it a new status, to make it the real focus for Marlborough and what happens in this town.”

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Wiltshire Police identify dangerous new “police” computer scam

Wiltshire Police have issued a public warning about the latest computer scam in which a virus hijacks your PC and shows the message: “Metropolitan Police. Attention! Illegal activity was revealed!”

The suspect message tells the user that they have viewed illegal content and this supposed illegal behaviour is the cause of the blockage.

Users are then offered the chance to pay a certain amount of money to have the problem fixed and promises are made that the supposed illegal actions won’t be reported if a donation is made via Ukash service.

This virus has nothing to do with the genuine Ukash company who do not spread the virus nor do they support such fraudulent activities.

Detective Sergeant Julie Law told Marlborough News Online: “This virus looks reasonably convincing and requires a bit of technical knowledge to remove.  We advise the public to seek expert advice to remove this malware from their home computer, and if they have provided any credit card/bank details contact their bank immediately.”

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Marlborough’s community choir raises 368 pound notes for Home-Start

Saturday’s Christmas concert given by Marlborough Community Choir at St Peter’s church, raised £368 for the Kennet branch of Home-Start – a “great result”, says choir founder Vanessa Lafaye.

Home-Start is a voluntary organisation that provides support, friendship and practical help for families in their own homes. (see letter of thanks from Sarah Holden, Chairman of Trustees of Home-Start)

The choir’s next public performance will be an hour-long Christmas concert in Marlborough’s Waitrose supermarket at midday on Saturday next (December 17).

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'Appy Christmas – from all at Marlborough News Online

Readers of Marlborough News Online are being presented with a Christmas gift by the web development team behind the site.

From today (Wednesday, December 7) Marlborough News Online is available as a free App for iPhone and iPad users.

Peter Davison, one of the founders of Marlborough News Online, said: “A fair number of people are using their mobiles to follow the local news while they're on the move, so it made sense to offer this resource.

“We're extremely grateful to Tim and Nicola Ashton, and the rest of the team at Mole Productions, who have continued to support the site they developed for us by writing the Apps.”

The launch of the App was the cause of a double celebration for video and web production company Mole, who have recently moved from their offices in Hughenden Yard to 1 The Green, a striking Georgian house that was once the town's registry office.

Tim, from Mole, said: “Increasingly, we're being asked by clients to design Apps to compliment their websites.

“Although we've already created Apps for niche products and services, this has been our first App with mass-market appeal.”

The Apps are available to download by clicking the App Store button at the bottom of this article from your mobile device. Don't forget to give the App a good rating if you find it useful!

Need an App for your business or organisation? Log on to www.moleproductions.com

Pictured: Tim Ashton of Mole Productions and Peter Davison of Marlborough News Online try out the Apps

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Good jobs news for Swindon, but in Devizes constituency unemployment gets worse

Honda’s Swindon operation provided bright news (Monday, December 19) with the resumption of full-time shift work, the first of the new, ninth generation Civics coming off the production line and the announcement of five hundred new jobs in January.

The plant has not been working to full capacity since the credit crisis of 2008 saw car sales plummet.  More recently the plant has been hit by supply problems caused by natural disasters first in Japan and then in Thailand.

The new jobs will start in January and recruiting is staring immediately – at www.hondamanufacturingcareers. co.uk 

The prime minister called the announcement of the new jobs “great news and a tremendous boost to the workforce, the car industry and UK manufacturing.”  Once recruitment is complete Honda’s Swindon workforce will stand at 3,500.  With an extra shift added next year, the plant’s annual car production is expected to rise from 100,000 to 180,000 cars.

Further south, in the Devizes constituency, the unemployment figures published this month did not bring good news.  Youth unemployment is still climbing – those aged under twenty-four and claiming jobseekers allowance (JSA) in November increased by 43.8 per cent on the same month in 2010.

Across all age groups in the constituency showed an 18.8 per cent increase in claimants over the year.

But the scale of the problem faced in creating jobs was shown by the comparative figures for November 2006 and November 2011 which showed an increase of 148.8 per cent.  By that measure Devizes constituency has suffered the second steepest rise in unemployment of all the English constituencies.

Across the country there were a thousand more men claiming JSA in November – bringing the total to 1.07 million.  But the government’s austerity measures are hitting women harder: two thousand more women claimed JSA in November. -bringing the total to 529,000 –which is the highest it’s been  since 1995.

And the national figures show public sector employment down by 67,000 over the previous quarter’s figure.  And employment in the private sector was up by 5,000 over last quarter. So far the private sector is simply not absorbing most of those who have lost their jobs due to cut-backs in the public services.

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No happy birthday – or Christmas – for sacked Ivy House Hotel manager

 A far from happy birthday and a far from happy Christmas.  That is the prospect facing Ina Thomas, general manager of Marlborough’s Ivy House Hotel, which has been sold to Marlborough College for conversion into a hostel.

She has lost her job in the wake of the controversy over the fate of the grade II listed hotel, one of 19 full and part-time members of staff who face the prospect of unemployment as from January 10.

And for Ina, who joined the staff as assistant manager in June, 2009 and was promoted to manager last February, it is a double blow as she celebrates her 46th birthday on Tuesday.

“And none of us are going to have a very happy Christmas,” she told Marlborough News Online.  “We are all in the same boat.”

“It is pretty sad.  Nobody is prepared to enjoy the Christmas season because of what has happened to us.  And it looks very scary right now for the staff to go out and find a job. It would be good if someone could help.”

The 28-room three star hotel, which dates back to 1707 when it started life as a school, is owned by Hunt’s Foodservice, a family company that  has Michael Douch as its hotel director, which bought Ivy House in 2008.

None of the staff, to Ina’s knowledge, has yet found a new post at a time when unemployment has hit its highest peak for 17 years.  Ina too, though she has been too busy to seek new employment.

“I am so busy,” she explained.  “The hotel is full for Christmas and we have functions happening.  The occupancy rate for the last three to six months has been about 85 per cent.”

“It is not a question of the hotel losing money, not at all.  The owner has been very apologetic about it.  I cannot fault him.  He is very helpful about everything.”

Was he surprised by the outcry in Marlborough over the loss of one of its two hotels, sold to the College for what is believed to be £1.8 million for conversion into a hostel for girl students?

“I think Yes and No,” replied Ina, who lives in Tisbury and will be looking initially for a new post nearer home.  “Obviously there is a company board and it is not one person’s decision.”

“The owners have let the hotel drift because they have always been in the process of selling and pulling out.  It started in October last year.”

“That’s when we all thought we might lose our jobs.  And it has just gone on from then.”

And she added: “There has been tremendous support for us from the town, from the people, neighbours, everybody, even the guests.  They are surprised about the outcome after all the protests.  They were sort of over-ruled by the planning inspector.”

“We didn’t have any contact with the College during this time, but we do now as they are sending all their contractors to carry out asbestos checks, everything, electricity, plumbing. It is all in the process of happening.”

But Ina is determined to stay in the hotel business.

“It’s been great fun here,” she said.  “It’s a lovely hotel and we’ve got some lovely guests.  I love the business.  It has always been my business until now.”

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Marlborough loses out in the battle to halt College’s Ivy House Hotel takeover

The battle save Marlborough’s grade II listed Ivy House Hotel from being taken over by Marlborough College as a hostel for its girl students has apparently been lost.

Staff at the iconic High Street hotel have been told that their employment will end on January 10, indicating that the College has  completed its controversial contract to buy the 28-room hotel and convert it.

Confirmation is awaited from the College, which only days ago declared that it was not running rough shod over the town and does understand the local sensitivities.

The comment came from Sir Hayden Phillips, chairman of the College council, who also declared that he was unaware of “any impropriety on anyone’s part” in the planning process, which has resulted in a government planning inspector giving the College the go ahead.

He made his response to sustained criticism over the loss of one of Marlborough’s two hotels in a letter to retired solicitor Sir John Sykes, one of more than 30 residents who opposed the change of use consent granted for the £1.8 million takeover project.

But that is not the view of Wiltshire and Marlborough town councillor Nick Fogg, who led the campaign against the loss of the hotel and is continuing to raise issues over the planning process with Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott.

“This is a blow to the town of Marlborough,” Councillor Fogg, twice Mayor of Marlborough, told Marlborough News Online.  “The two economic reports that were commissioned by Wiltshire Council demonstrated the vital contribution this hotel makes to the town's well-being.”

“The inspector on the case does not appear to have read them, or even to have heard about them.  The fact that the clear views of the local planning committees, the Chamber of Commerce and a large number of local inhabitants were not considered flies in the face of localism.”

“Possibly on grounds of economy, none of these people were permitted to put their case.  The cutbacks have dealt a real blow to the democratic process.  Getting rid of the Inspectorate altogether and putting decisions right back in the hands of elected representatives would ensure a fairer outcome and save even more money.”

And he was supported by retired company director Gordon Olson, who has yet to receive all the Freedom of Information requests he has made to Wiltshire, in particular the emails of its planning officer Mike Wilmott.

Mr Olson, whose two sons were both students at the College, told Marlborough News Online:  "The objectors were on the back foot from the moment the planning inspector's decision flew in the face of Marlborough town council, Wiltshire Council, 30 local objectors, including the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, and the independent economic impact reports.”

“The appeal was decided without the objectors being given a hearing and its outcome was a huge surprise to us.  We can only speculate what might have happened if Wiltshire Council had turned down the application to convert the Ivy House in the first place, rather than finding itself being a late-coming objector at the planning appeal.”

Sir Hayden, a retired former top civil servant, appeared to be unaware that Wiltshire Council is under pressure to reveal the answers to questions involving Mike Wilmott, its own planning officer, whose original recommendation to allow the hotel change of use was rejected by Wiltshire’s area planning committee.

Sir John Sykes, chairman of Marlborough’s Merchant’s House, had written to the Rt Rev Nick Holtam, the new Bishop of Salisbury, who is ex official president of the College’s council, and Sir Hayden, who lives in Mildenhall, decided to answer the letter himself.

“I can assure you that College is very conscious of its relationship with the town and the community of Marlborough,” replied Sir Hayden. “There has been throughout the life of the College, a very constructive engagement between the two communities.”

“The College is of course itself a major employer of people, who live in the town and surrounding district.  There is no doubt that the fact the College is in Marlborough has an added value impact on the economy of the town.”

“It is therefore with considerable sadness that I find that controversy has arisen in relation to the College’s proposed purchase of the Ivy House.”

“At no stage has the College made any attempt to ride rough shod over local sensitivity.”

He pointed out that the College has an “ever growing demand for additional boarding house for girls” and reveals that various options were considered before a bid was made for the hotel, though he fails to mention whether that included building on the College’s own extensive campus.

He insisted that since the College entered into a conditional contract with the hotel’s owners a year ago it was bound by that contract to go ahead with the purchase once planning consent had been granted.

Sir Hayden said that the planning inspector made “a comprehensive decision, including the question of economic impact,” despite claims that two independent economic assessment reports were withheld from him.

“I fully understand the concerns of those who object to our plan,” he added.  “However, the College has been contractually bounded to buy the Ivy House since a year ago subject only to the appropriate planning permission being obtained.”

“The planning process is a democratic one and at that very thorough.  I am not aware of any impropriety on anyone’s part and I hope the College on the one hand, and those in the town who object to our plan, will readily continue to work well together in the mutual interest of both communities.”

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Misleading town hall leaflet may deprive six councillors of their right to vote

 Six members of Marlborough town council may have prejudiced their right to vote on the project to revamp the town hall by issuing a misguided leaflet that undermines the council’s consultation process.

Wiltshire Council has been asked for guidance on whether the leaflet breaks the councillors’ Code of Conduct and, if so, could bar the six Tory councillors from voting on the scheme after the consultation results have been evaluated.

That is on the basis that they have prejudiced their right to play a part in any future decisions on the outcome of the consultation by giving their pre-determined views and by putting out information that is considered false and misleading.

 The code, which upholds the need for democratic debate on issues, does inform councillors: “Dishonest and deceitful behaviour in your role as a member may bring your authority into disrepute” is not sanctioned.

Nor is predetermination if it can be proved that councillors have “a closed mind when making a decision.”

The six councillors who have signed the leaflet imploring residents to “say No to the scheme” are Stewart Dobson, Tony Spranger, Margaret Rose, Robin Notton, Noel Barrett-Morton, and Marian Hannaford-Dobson.

Their leaflet, on pale blue paper printed by Devizes Conservative Association, is being distributed through letterboxes well ahead of the end of the consultation period, which lasts until December 31.


It declares: “We, your Conservative councillors, believe you should know THE FACTS.”

Now they have been challenged in a statement issued by Councillor Richard Pitts, who told Marlborough News Online: “The claims made in the leaflet are rubbish.”

“There is no intention whatsoever that any increase will be made to the town council’s precept, due to the town hall project.”

“The project will cost £11,000 a year and that sum is totally accounted for within the council’s annual budget of £400,000.  The project costs are offset by savings of £38,000 that will be made.  So the fears being raised are without foundation.”

He also points out that the town council is not a business and should not be treated as if it makes a profit or a loss.

 “If we considered the running of the town hall on that basis, then it would not be viable and if it was a business then you could say we ought to pull the place down and invest our money elsewhere.”

Mr Pitts is a member of the 10 CanDo group of town councillors who reject the negative attitude of the six Tory members, who have campaigned against the town hall revamp since it was first mooted.

“Whilst the CanDo group welcome open debate, this leaflet is factually incorrect,” he declared.  “I cannot stand by and allow this to go un-corrected, as it is so wrong and will impact the public consultation if ignored.”

And in his detailed rebuttal of the leaflet (see below) Mr Pitts accuses the Tory councillors of creating a “fog of confusion” by “force-feeding” residents with misinformation.

“As only one out of six the facts in the leaflet are correct, and one is not a FACT at all, this town deserve the real facts.”

The Leaflet claims:

“FACT 1 CARRY OUT NON ESSENTIAL ALTERATIONS, that is not a fact that is an opinion.  Since, this council was elected in 2007 the town hall had grown to be a 60,000 a year index-linked white elephant, and doing nothing to make better use of the building will not change that.”

“The do nothing option favoured by these councillors will cost the taxpayers even more money.  The work that has been carried out so far by the CanDo councillors on this council have improved access to the court room, by gaining grant funding and increased over all use of the town hall.”

“FACT 2 The £1 Million is only an estimate and does not include professional fees.  WRONG! The costed project of £1,007,000 does include professional fees.”

“The figures quoted in the consultation document have been professionally produced by an independent qualified quantity surveyor, and fully include the industry standard allowance for professional fees.”

“FACT 3 Loan repayments are approximately £50,000 for the next 50 years.  CORRECT! At an interest rate of 4.35 per cent.  The project costs are offset by the savings made, therefore reducing the general operating costs of the council.”

“Do not forget the £49,000 annual loan repayments are offset by £38,000 in savings achievable through the proposals, meaning a net cost to the taxpayers of £11,000 (fixed) per year.  This will diminish over time as inflation reduces its net effect.”

“FACT 4 The town hall makes a loss.  WRONG! The town hall is a public building it does not make a LOSS it costs at present £60,000, as I said it could be considered a white elephant.”

“However, it is run for the good of the community, the town hall is an asset that the town council has to manage on behalf of the people of this town, managing historic buildings costs money.  This proposal is about making better and more efficient use of a building that will be here for the next 100 years, at an increased cost to run.”

“The do nothing option is the financially irresponsible option.  If we can rent it out to recoup some of the operating costs all to the good.  Every community body who wants to use the town hall never wants to pay for it.”

“Applying a business model in the traditional sense does not make sense, making full and regular use of an energy efficient cost effective building does!  Public Works Loans are designed to provide affordable finance to councils to allow them to develop their communities.”

“This project will simulate and enhance employment and local business in the area.”

“FACT 5 The loan repayments will only add to the annual loss and reduce other spending.  WRONG! The council has given a clear commitment that it will accommodate the financing of this project within existing council tax levels.”

“There will be no council tax increase as a result of this proposal.  It will not impact on other services that the council may wish to pursue, for example the flood alleviation scheme.  “Next year’s council tax proposals will allow the council to proceed with this project should it chose to do so and subject to the consultation, as well as the Flood Alleviation Scheme without increasing your council tax.”

“FACT 6 No Detailed business or financial viability plan has been produced to justify this loan.  WRONG! These councillors treat the public with contempt by force feeding them misinformation.”

“I am sure the public see through this fog of confusion and understand the CanDo councillors are acting in the best interests of the town.  The council has published the headline figures in the leaflet and the bottom line repayment costs.”

“The CanDo councillors would not be such Muppets as to not have these headline figures underpinned by real data.  There is a detailed document produced by an independent qualified quantity surveyor which supports the whole proposal, it is lengthy and complex, but freely available on request.”

“The CanDo councillors have attracted over £250,000 in project grants since the council came to power in 2007.  The list of successful projects completed, are matter of public record.”

“The package of work to the town hall will dramatically change the way the council functions focusing on the town hall and makes available to the community the full facilities of the building.”

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New NHS minor injuries info booklet is “as clear as mud” protests Tory MP Claire Perry

As clear as mud – that was the blunt comment today from Marlborough MP Claire Perry on a 12-page multi-coloured NHS Swindon booklet delivered throughout the town and headed “NOT an emergency?”.

It purports to tell residents where to go directly for treatment following the demise of the Savernake Hospital’s minor injuries unit and, on its back page, declares: "When it is anemergency" – the last two words without a space between them.

And it appeared inappropriately as Health Secretary of State Andrew Lansley issued a list of 60 new goals to hospitals designed to save more than 20,000 lives a year through improved quality care for patients.

“Having read the relevant instructions in the leaflet, I think they are as clear as mud,” protested Mrs Perry. “The advice now goes something like this…
“Treatment for non-urgent cases (what are they?) will now take place in the Carfax NHS medical centre in Swindon (where?) but as this has no X-ray facilities and very limited parking please go to the Clover Centre at the Great Western Hospital if you are an urgent case or think you have broken something – and you have to be the judge of that.”

And she added: “The sooner we get our doctors commissioning local services for local people the better.”

The booklet, which compares in no way with the defined minor injury unit treatment available to Marlborough residents on a 24-hour, seven days a week basis, issued four years ago,  dumbfounded Savernake campaigner Val Compton (pictured).

“I am horrified that NHS Swindon think they can send out a booklet to Wiltshire patients with no liasion taking place and filled with wrong information,” she told Marlborough News Online.

She complained that the leaflet was causing considerable confusion in the treatment of “non-urgent minor injuries”, which is no longer be available at Clover Centre, based in Great Western Hospital (GWH).  

The information, clearly stated in a jokey “Mister Men style” booklet produced by NHS Swindon and delivered by post, is “absolutely contrary” to last year’s NHS Swindon’s own annual report of 2009/10, said Mrs Compton.

“This states that the Clover centre offered ‘treatment for minor injuries and minor illnesses without an appointment, 24 hours a day and seven days a week’,” she declared.  

“It is also contrary to NHS Wiltshire’s leaflet on Minor Injury Units (MIU) which states Clover Centre can be used if it is more convenient to attend there rather than Chippenham or Trowbridge MIUs.”

 And she pointed out: “It would seem now, that only ‘urgent’ cases will be seen and treated in what is now called the Urgent Care Service at GWH – everyone else will be re-directed to the Carfax NHS Medical Centre or their GP.”

“The booklet fails to tell you how to find this obscure centre in Carfax Street, fails to tell you it has about three car parking spaces and also fails to tell you if you have a suspected fracture, there is no X-ray facility on the premises, which would be required for a diagnosis.”

“In my book, the withdrawal of a standard minor injury service, such as we used to receive in Savernake Hospital, is a substantive change – and that requires a public consultation to be held.  Did I miss it?”

NHS Wiltshire responded:  “NHS Wiltshire understands that some of the information contained in the leaflet will be confusing to people living in Marlborough and the surrounding areas.”

“As commissioner of minor injuries services for Wiltshire, NHS Wiltshire recommends that people in the SN8 postcode area should continue to use the Urgent Care Centre based at Great Western Hospital if it is more convenient for people to attend there rather than Chippenham or Trowbridge MIUs.”

“Patients who present at the Urgent Care Centre will be triaged according to their level of need; people with a suspected break or fracture, for instance, would certainly be treated there rather than at Carfax Street.”

“Indeed, the Urgent Care Centre provides direct access to X-Ray services which is an improved service to that provided previously at the Clover Centre.”

And the statement went on: “However, it’s important that patients understand how to use NHS services properly so that the Urgent Care Centre is used appropriately; we have had cases where people have turned up with broken nails, small insect bites and minor grazes, in which case patients are re-directed to their local pharmacy, GP etc.”

“People in the SN8 postcode area who require out of hours services or urgent medical advice when their GP practice is closed should continue to ring the Wiltshire out of hours number, which is 0300 111 5717.  Lines are open from 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays and all day at weekends and on public and bank holidays.”

“If a medical situation is life-threatening, you should always phone 999.  A medical emergency is a life-threatening situation such as serious injury, loss of consciousness, chest pain or suspected stroke.  Do not hesitate in these circumstances – call the emergency services on 999.”

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