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Campaigners to seek judicial review over hospital closures in Forest of Dean

Campaigners have vowed to challenge in the courts a decision to close two community hospitals in the Forest of Dean.

The decision to close the Dilke Memorial Hospital and Lydney and District Hospital was taken by the NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust at meetings in Coleford last week.

The CCG and the Trust said the decision to replace them with a single new community hospital in the area had followed “careful review, consideration and discussion”.

However, the HOLD Campaign, which is to set up a crowd funding page to get its legal challenge off the ground, claimed the proposals had received the support of less than half of the responses to the public consultation.

Zac Arnold, Press Liaison for the HOLD Campaign, said: “We are very disappointed at the blatant lack of respect that the NHS have showed to the public in ignoring their concerns. Several members of the public asked serious questions regarding various aspects of the consultation at the meeting on Thursday and these questions were met by no satisfactory answers from NHS representatives.”

He added: “As announced on our Facebook page yesterday, the HOLD Campaign are preparing to launch legal action against the NHS in regards to these proposals and we have a line-up of very strong legal challenges that the NHS will have to answer to. The fight is not over.”

At the meeting last week the criteria to be used to consider a preferred location for the new hospital were approved. It was also agreed that an independent body would be commissioned to establish a combined panel to make a recommendation on the location.

The panel will be independently selected and will include a majority of lay (public) members, the NHS trust and the CCG said.

Mary Hutton, Accountable Officer of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Governing Body members were satisfied that no new or material information had come to light through the consultation that would bring into question the case for change.

“That said, members considered very carefully all of the information presented to them, including the consultation feedback, and recognised that several key themes had emerged.

“Whilst approving the preferred option, we have agreed what we will do with Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and other partners to address a number of these points in our planning.”

Hutton added: “We recognise that for many, today’s news will be tinged with great sadness with the replacement of two existing hospitals that have served the communities of the Forest of Dean for generations. We are acutely aware of this.

“However, we believe the preferred option offers a number of benefits to local patients – whether that’s improved clinical space to support services, overcoming the challenges of maintaining some essential services across two sites or providing a great care environment for patients and staff.”

Work would now progress to determine a location for the new hospital with a planned completion date for the build of 2022, the CCG and the NHS Trust said.

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