• Portsmouth Hospitals Chief Executive lies about Public Meeting

    Yesterday, Ursula Ward, the Chief Executive of Portsmouth Hospitals Trust wrote to me to say that the Hospital Trust had not refused to attend a public meeting about the closure of the G5 Ward:

    "In your email you state that I have previously refused to attend such an event. I think it is important that I put the record straight in that I have never refused such an invitation."
    Ursula Ward 17th February 2011

    This is an outright lie.

    Below I attached my email to Ursula Ward today which included a copy of an email from the PA to Julie Dawes, the Director of Nursing and ‘executive lead’ on end-of-life care, confirming that the Hospital’s Executive Management Team had considered the request further but refused to attend. It is worth noting that her letter to me yesterday was itself in reply to a repeated invitation asking the Hospital Trust to attend the public meeting and address the concerns of patients and their families.

    My email to Ursula Ward:

    Dear Mrs Ward,

    In response to your letter (by email) of 17th February 2011, I feel that it is I who should set the record straight for you. I attach below for your information a copy of the email exchange between myself and Claire Woodward (on behalf of Julie Dawes, Director of Nursing) confirming your Executive Team’s refusal to send a hospital representative to last night’s public meeting. I am sure that Allison Stratford, your director of Communications and Engagement, will be happy to confirm to you that the subject of a public meeting was discussed on the 17th January and your Executive Team undertook to reply to the request within 7 days.

    You are perfectly aware that the meeting of the 17th January was not a public meeting and it is misleading to try and represent it as such. In fact, the hospital explicitly restricted us to 5 attendees and demanded names and questions in advance of that meeting.

    I brought this to the attention of the members of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in my meeting with them yesterday and also raised your point that it would not be appropriate for you to attend a public meeting while their review was underway. They stressed to me that this was entirely your decision as a hospital and that they would not have raised objections to you attending such a meeting. In fact, the members of the Panel themselves did attend last night’s public meeting and listened to the views of dozens of patients and families with experience of end-of-life care at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

    It is regrettable that once again the Hospital has shown a complete disregard for the opinion of patients and families, and that you continue to seek to avoid public scrutiny.


    Will Purvis

    Save G5 Ward Campaign Group


    From: Woodward Claire – PA to Director of Nursing [mailto:claire.woodward@porthosp.nhs.uk]

    Sent: 21 January 2011 09:55

    To: Will Purvis

    Subject: RE: FAO: Julie Dawes – Meeting with Save G5 Ward Campaign Group

    Dear Mr Purvis

    Thank you for your email and request for further information. I have attached the presentation that was given on 17th January 2011 and email address for Mark Roland (noted below).


    As agreed on the 17th, in response to the group’s request for a public meeting, I can confirm that Julie and the Executive Management Team have given this further consideration. However, their view remains that, whilst the IRP are considering the end of life care pathway, a public meeting would not be appropriate. They, and the Board, will await the IRPs findings.

    If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact myself or Julie.

    Kind regards.

    Claire Woodward

    Personal Assistant to Julie Dawes, Director of Nursing


    Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

    Trust Headquarters

    Room F307,  F Level

    Queen Alexandra Hospital


    PO6 3LY

    Tel: 02392 28(6801)

    Fax: 02392 286073

    Email: Claire.Woodward@porthosp.nhs.uk

    From: Will Purvis [mailto:wapurvis@me.com]

    Sent: 18 January 2011 12:40

    To: ‘claire.woodward@porthosp.nhs.uk’

    Subject: FAO: Julie Dawes – Meeting with Save G5 Ward Campaign Group

    Dear Julie,

    I just wanted to thank you for holding last night’s meeting and ask that you pass mine and my colleagues’ thanks on to everyone from the hospital who gave up their evening to meet with us. As I have tried to make clear at every point I am extremely keen there is a real dialogue between the hospital and campaigners about any concerns and that it is based on a good understanding of the facts.

    The information you provided in your presentation was extremely useful and I was wondering if you would be kind enough to email me a copy of the slides. I think it is important to ensure that any future questions or concerns raised by the campaign group are based upon accurate information and not reliant on hastily taken notes last night.

    I hope that the Executive Team is able to consider carefully the proposal for a joint public meeting and look forward to hearing from you with a proposal for an independent Chair with whom you would be happy to work. I am of course willing to discuss any other details of the proposal to ensure that you feel you have the best possible opportunity to fairly put your case to the public.

    I only have one other request, would you be able to give the email contact details for Mark Roland as he kindly indicated last night that he may be able to get me a copy of Hampshire’s end-of-life care strategy?

    Many thanks,

    Will Purvis

  • The value of peoples’ lives!

    g5wardLast night, I met with representatives of Portsmouth Hospital Trust to discuss the closure of the G5 ward, the lack of public consultation and the independent review currently taking place.

    I asked for this meeting last month and I am extremely grateful that the Hospital Trust agreed to it. While we were obviously never going to leave the meeting completely agreeing with each other, it is important that there is a real discussion between campaigners and the Hospital about the issues.

    I have asked the hospital for a copy of the presentation made to me last night on the changes to end-of-life care so that I can make the information public, but I did have a few concerns about the figures I was given.

    The hospital has finally admitted that finance was a consideration in the closure of the G5 ward and that they were looking to reduce the number of beds at the hospital as a whole. This is a major issue as the financial implications of closing the ward were not even a part of the extremely limited public consultation that they did conduct at the figures presented last night were only made public this week as a result of my request.

    Shockingly the financial saving from closing the G5 Ward only appears to be in the region of £29,000 per year.

    This is because caring for patients on general wards costs £250 per bed per day compared to £300 per bed per day for care provided on the G5 ward before it was closed.

    To compromise on the level of care for elderly patients reaching the end of their lives for the sake of £29,000 seems to be a chilling message from Portsmouth Hospitals Trust about the value of people’s lives!

  • Have your say on G5 Ward Review

    willhswebLast month we succeeded in persuading the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to order a full independent review of Portsmouth Hospital Trust’s decision to close the G5 Ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

    Now this investigation has started and The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) wants to hear from anyone who has a view on the G5 issue.

    Dr Peter Barrett, chairman of the panel, said: ‘The IRP, the independent expert on NHS service change, is carrying out a review to consider whether the closure of the G5 end-of-life care ward at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth enables the provision of safe, sustainable and accessible end-of-life care for the local population.”

    “As part of our review, we would like to hear from all interested parties in Portsmouth, particularly those who have new evidence to offer or feel that their voice has not been heard, including patients, local residents, local authority representatives, interest groups, clinicians and other staff.’”

    Next Monday I will be leading a group of representatives from the Save G5 Ward Campaign to meet with senior hospital managers to discuss both the G5 Ward closure and future public consultation procedures.

    I will also be inviting the Hospital Trust to hold a joint public meeting with us. I hope they will join us in having a meaningful public debate about the issues surrounding the ward closure.

    The momentum of the campaign just keeps building. The strength of feeling against the closure of the G5 ward is apparent. Over 8,000 people have signed the petition already and the forms just keep coming in. But it is now more important than ever that people keep collecting signatures to show the Independent Review Panel the strength of opposition to closing the G5 ward.

    To contact the IRP and have your say email info@irpanel.org.uk
    or call 0207 045 4844.
    The review will finish at the end of March.

  • Campaigners’ anger as QA refuses to reopen ward for dying patients

    I can’t really put it any better that Rachel Hawthorn’s excellent article in today’s Portsmouth News:

    THE boss of Queen Alexandra Hospital has refused calls to reopen a ward for dying patients as a review into its closure gets under way next month.

    Ursula Ward was asked by campaigners if she would reinstate the G5 ward ahead of full inquiry ordered by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley.

    The chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust was asked the question during a hospital board meeting this week, but said: ‘No. We cannot do that now, we are too far down the process.’

    willhswebWill Purvis, from the Save G5 Campaign Group, who asked Ms Ward the question, criticised her response.

    He said: ‘The hospital trust’s refusal to even consider reopening the ward just shows that they have absolutely no interest in the views of their patients or staff.

    ‘G5 was extremely popular and successful and it was closed without a proper consultation.

    ‘Over 8,500 people have demanded that it is re-opened already.

    ‘Is it really unreasonable to ask that it is re-opened while a proper inquiry takes places into end-of-life care at QA?’

    … you can read the whole report here

  • Guest Post: “What tuition fees means to me”– Sophie Bertrand


    Since I was in primary school I’ve always known that I wanted to go to university. And more recently I’ve been well aware that without going to university, the chances of me getting the jobs I want are very slim.

    Now, more than ever, competition in the job market is fierce and, unfortunately, you need that piece of paper telling a prospective employer what sort of education you’ve had – if at all! 

    So this year I have been building up my CV and getting the work experience and qualifications I need to apply for University. The thought of paying £3,250 a year in fees wasn’t encouraging, but I could just about manage that. Even a small increase in fees would have been bearable, but yesterday my local MP, Penny Mordaunt voted to increase tuition fees by 177%. This means that what I would have paid for 3 years of tuition could now be what I have to pay each and every year of my studies.

    She hides behind the excuse that it is not paid ‘up front’ and I don’t have to repay it unless I have a job. Does she think I am studying just to do nothing? By the time I leave university and get a job I will be lumbered with a £30,000 – £40,000 debt. One that I will probably be repaying for most of my life. That is not fair. Apparently every type of debt in the country should be reduced except student debt!

    The Government keep telling me that I will be "paying less in a month that you would under the current system" as if that is an excuse. If the bill for my phone contract went up enormously but I only had to pay £5 a month, I’d still be livid. I’d just be paying it off for longer!

    To punish young people for wanting to further themselves by burdening them with mountains of debt is not fair.

    It has been my dream for so long to go on to University.
    I have the ability, I have the will but I simply don’t have the money.

    By voting to increase university tuition fees yesterday Penny Mordaunt told me that I don’t deserve to go to University. She sent me the message that university is only open to the rich, who can afford to take on debts.

    Sophie Bertrand

  • Why I’m still a Lib Dem!

    That may seem a slightly odd title considering where this post is, but I feel that after today I have to explain.

    I have campaigned against university tuition fees since I was 15 years old and I still will. I wholeheartedly believe that education is a right not a privilege and no one should be scared away from going to University just because of their financial and social background.


    I am aware of the arguments put forward by the Government, that repayments are based upon ability to pay and I agree that their proposals are fairer than the current system. That is not, however, a good enough reason to vote for them.


    We should be driving for a fairer more progressive system which doesn’t burden students with tens of thousands of pounds of debt (notional or otherwise)!

    So, back to the question. Why am I still a Liberal Democrat?

    Because I oppose tuition fees – It is still party policy to abolish them and 21 of our MPs remembered that today. Labour introduced tuition fees and top-up fees while the Conservatives want no cap on fees at all!

    Because I believe in civil liberties – Only the Lib Dems consistently opposed (then scrapped) ID cards, opposed detention without trial and fought for human rights. Labour eroded our civil liberties for 10 years, locking people up without trial, condoning torture and removing the right to protest. Meanwhile the Conservatives would tear up the Human Rights Act.

    Because I believe in social justice – Lib Dems in government mean that millions of the poorest people will get a ‘tax cut’ next year as personal allowances are increased and millions will pay no tax at all. Schools will get millions of pounds of extra funding to help the poorest pupils. All because we have the courage to drive down tax avoidance and invest the money where it will make a real difference.

    And most importantly, because we do what we promise.

    That is why I am proud that today Mike Hancock voted against the increase in tuition fees. Meanwhile the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, voted to burden future generations of students with ever increasing mountains of debt!

  • Government orders G5 review

    Great news today as Lib Dem Health Minister Paul Burstow announced that the Government has ordered a full independent review of Portsmouth Hospital Trust’s decision to close the G5 end-of-life care ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

    Councillor Lynne Stagg and the other members of the Health Scrutiny Panel at Portsmouth City Council did a great job in referring the decision to the Secretary of State in the first place. Now an independent panel will conduct a full public review of the decision which is expected to take 3 months.

    Further details of the review and a dedicated phone number will be released next week and I will publish them on here. For now comments can be emailed to info@irpanel.org.uk.

    Given my experiences of end-of-life care with my father, I will certainly be sending my own comments and views to the panel. I urge anyone with experience of end-of-life and palliative care at QA to submit comments to the panel so that they understand the strength of feeling against the changes.

  • Snow & Ice

    Helpful advice and information from the City Council on driving conditions, school closures, keeping warm during the cold weather and other related issues can be found by following the links below.

    I hope this information is useful to you, and please stay safe!

    Advice from Portsmouth City Council on snow & ice on the roads can be found here.


    Find out about the latest school closures here.


    Information and advice on staying warm in the winter can be found here.

  • Tuition Fees

    Contrary to what you may read in the papers, the Liberal Democrats do not support increasing university tuition fees. It remains party policy to abolish up-front tuition fees.

    tuitionfeesWe do now, however, find ourselves in a situation where some Liberal Democrat MPs may vote to increase fees because this is to be the policy of the coalition government. This is wrong. I could go into all of the technical details of what is wrong with the current proposals, it is after all a subject that I have campaigned on for over 10 years now, but I won’t.

    Simply, it is wrong for Lib Dem MPs to support these proposals because they made a promise to the people that voted for them to vote against any increase in tuition fees. This is not an issue of ideologies or of party politics, this is extremely straight forward, it is a question of integrity.

    I, and many other Lib Dems across the country, have been proud to go out campaigning, on doorsteps, and tell people that the Liberal Democrats are different. We are different because we stick to our pledges, because we deliver on our promises, because we won’t just ‘say anything to get elected’. Nick Clegg himself made great capital before May’s election from promising a fresh start and a new politics of honesty and integrity. How then can any MP expect anyone to vote for them ever again if they betray that trust and break a personal signed pledge less than 7 months later?

    I am proud that our local Lib Dem MP here in Portsmouth, Mike Hancock, is going to vote against any increase in tuition fees. He, like I, believes that this is a question of integrity. His exact words to me were “a pledge is a pledge”.

    Now I urge every other Lib Dem MP to honour their pledge and vote against any increase in tuition fees.

  • Save Our G5 Ward

    Firstly, welcome to my new blog! I have finally decided that I should start giving a few details online of the work I am up to and why.

    It seems appropriate that my first ever post should be on the subject of the closure of G5 end-of-life ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

    Photo courtesy of The News, Portsmouth

    This is a subject that I have had first-hand experience of very recently. My own father died earlier this year, not on the Portsmouth G5 ward, but an equivalent ward in another area. In the last few months of his life I experienced the very real difficulties in getting him transferred from a general care ward to a specialist end-of-life facility. I spent hours lobbying and meeting with senior clinical staff, occupational therapists and nursing staff to get my father transferred onto an equally over-subscribed facility.

    It is for this reason that I find it so patronising when representatives of Portsmouth Hospital Trust tell me, to my face, that there is no difference in the standard of care for end-of-life patients on general wards. This is simply untrue!

    That is not the fault of the nursing or other care staff, they try very hard, but on a general ward they are so busy with acute clinical care needs in a busy environment that they simply don’t have the time to dedicate to patients who are in the last few months of their lives.

    And this is before you even consider the staff-patient ratios. Put simply, the G5 ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital had 20 specialist staff for one ward, the Hospital Trust now proposed to replace that with a mobile team of only 7 staff to cover the entire hospital site!

    I urge you to take the time to sign the petition online at http://campaigns.libdems.org.uk/saveg5ward

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