'Upset' Maldon fighting to save St Peter's hospital facing closure

St Peter's Hospital in Maldon
-Credit: (Image: EssexLive)


A hospital facing potential closure has been described as being "at the heart of Maldon" in a draft report of public consultation. An NHS organisation exploring the possibility of closing St Peter's Hospital received "widespread objections" during the consultation.

A draft report of feedback received during the recent NHS consultation, led by NHS Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board, has been published. More than 5,400 took part in the consultation, running between January 25 and April 11, looking into areas of NHS community hospital services. It included proposals in connection to the closure of St Peter's Hospital in Maldon.

The report said there had been significant objections to the proposals with concerns raised including the burden of extra travel time and costs, the impact on the environment and how the potential closure of St Peter's without a replacement facility would leave the health needs of local residents unmet. The proposals are also said to have been met by "a great deal of upset, uncertainty and anger" locally.

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The consultation looked into potential changes to the places where some community hospital intermediate care and stroke rehabilitation services are provided; a proposal to make permanent the temporary move of free-standing midwife-led birthing unit from St Peter's to Braintree, and proposals on the possibility of moving all other patient services to other locations.

The report says "just a few" NHS staff and clinicians believe the moving of freestanding midwife-led care from Maldon to Braintree was "a good or very good solution". Many respondents urged the ICB to reconsider the option of creating another birthing unit in/closer to Maldon or investing in St Peter's Hospital's current facilities. Four out of five NHS staff who responded considered the possibility of moving all other services away from St Peter's Hospital would be very bad or bad.

The report's author concluded: "It is evident that many view St Peter’s Hospital as the heart of Maldon, providing much loved and vital services to local residents. The consultation has led to a great deal of upset, uncertainty and anger amongst members of the public and staff about the future of healthcare services in Maldon and the wider MSE area, with particular concerns about the ability of residents from Maldon and surrounding areas to access healthcare services.

Maldon MP Sir John Whittingdale used a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons to shed light on the difficulties facing St Peter's Hospital
Maldon MP Sir John Whittingdale used a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons to shed light on the difficulties facing St Peter's Hospital -Credit:House of Commons via parliamentlive.tv

"These concerns were evident across all consultation activities and strongly voiced by those who attended the MP event. Members of the public, as well as staff, expressed frustration about the historical mismanagement and lack of investment in St Peter’s Hospital with strong feeling that decisions are being based on financial reasons, to the detriment of the needs of patients / local residents.

"There was a feeling that if St Peter’s Hospital had been better maintained, the ICB would not be having to consider these changes. Those who attended the MP event expressed strong concern over the transparency and allocation of financial resources regarding the refurbishment of St Peter’s.

"Throughout the different consultation activities, there was an evident level of distrust among members of the public and staff with repeated reference being made to past promises for a new hospital or health hub in Maldon. Many expressed their frustration of being let down and their voices not being listened to. "

The consultation's draft findings will be presented to the Mid and South Essex ICB Board at a meeting on July 11. No decisions will be made at the meeting.

Dr Matt Sweeting, Executive Medical Director for NHS Mid and South Essex said: "We would like to thank the thousands of people who took the time to give their views during our public consultation. We want to make sure we have considered all views and suggestions on any alternative service models that may have been suggested through the public consultation.

"People who provided feedback now have an opportunity to review the consultation report to ensure it reflects what they have said, as it is very important that we have this information available to us when we come to make our decision about the future of community and midwifery services across mid and south Essex."