Personal submission to the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee: Bristol Health Services Plan.

I am Stephen Petter, an individual active in local politics mainly as a co-optee nominated by Friends of the Earth to serve on the Environment Transport and Leisure Scrutiny Commission of Bristol City Council. I am not experienced in the Health Service (other than having many relatives working in it notably nurses, consultants, a paramedic and a maintenance manager) however I have experience and education in systems management, particularly traffic, and urban development. I appreciate your invitation to put my views to your Public Forum.

I am assuming we are considering regional specialist hospital facilities, and that there will be adequate distributed local provision for emergency and most out-patient requirements.

My view on regional specialist facilities is that once people, staff and patients, are in a large hospital it matters little to them where it is located. The only factor affecting location should be access, i.e. transport facilities. Almost by definition, access is maximised if a facility is centrally located. The only case for locating a facility such as a regional hospital on the outskirts is land value. Land is more valuable near the centre mainly because it is more accessible. It is particularly important that a hospital is accessible (and I am not using the term accessibility to refer solely to people with physical disadvantages) because:

  1. Emergencies. Frequently patients need to get there quickly;
  2. Out-patients. Many people often in a state of pain and anxiety need to access it for the first time, thus needing as simple a journey as possible;
  3. Visitors. Large numbers of people need to visit patients; they too are often anxious and making the journey for the first time;
  4. Staff. Many of the staff have to work on difficult shifts when public transport is minimal;
  5. Resources and Emissions. Non-central locations result in more use of taxis and private cars, contrary to national and local targets for vehicle emissions

Hence it is necessary that a major hospital be located near the public transport hub (such as it is in Bristol) i.e. near the City Centre. The Trusts have land in this area. Hospitals can be built tall as is common in London.

It would be most unfortunate if the Trusts were to sell their central sites and if they were to develop major facilities in the outer suburbs or countryside. It would be a short-term fix costing thousands of people undue expense, inconvenience and anxiety for decades, perhaps hundreds of years to come.

Other things being equal, more people would express satisfaction if a facility were central than if it were distant. It is the Trustsí duty to reflect its usersí preferences, and not be swayed by short-term financial expedients, nor by the preferences of consultants and top managers who commute by car and afford to can relocate in conveniently located country homes.


Stephen Petter

145 Oxord Street, Bristol, BS3 4RH. 0117 904 1043.



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