WITH just one Accident and Emergency Unit is Shropshire planned there could be new opportunities for smaller local hospitals like Ludlow.

This is the view of Peter Corfield, who is chairman of the Ludlow Hospital League of Friends.

He says that hospitals like Ludlow can take the strain off accident and emergency units.

Mr Corfield says that providing services in the local area also saves people from having to travel long distances for treatment.

Health chiefs have decided that there should be a single Accident and Emergency unit at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

“It should become clear what opportunities there may be for community-based facilities to be improved to reduce the number of patients who currently have to travel to the acute hospitals for routine appointments,” said Mr Corfield.

“We take every opportunity to promote our belief that investment in community facilities will always improve the patient experience through less travel. Closer communication with the Shropshire and Telford NHS Trust will reduce the risk of overburdening the emergency departments and development of video conferencing, for instance, will reduce the number of unnecessary Accident and Emergency referrals.”

Ludlow has a minor injuries unit that can treat patients with illnesses and injuries that need attention but do not require the specialist care of an Accident and Emergency Unit.

There are also x-ray, ultrasound and kidney dialysis units.

Earlier this year the High Sheriff of Shropshire Rhoderick Swire visited Ludlow Hospital to be shown facilities by Peter Corfield and the League of Friends.

The visit was part of a bid to raise awareness of the wide range of facilities that are available at the community hospital.

Ludlow Community Hospital provides services that have been made possible because of major investment by the Hospital League of Friends over many years.

This has made life easier for people who would otherwise have faced long and distressing travel for treatment for chronic health conditions.

Before the opening of the kidney dialysis unit at Ludlow people suffering from advanced kidney disease or failure were required to travel to Shrewsbury for treatment.

For most people that involved a round trip of more than 50 miles three times a week.

This would involve a patient from Ludlow who needed transport being picked up early in the morning and taken to Shrewsbury where they would spend several hours hooked up to a dialysis machine.

The machine takes the blood and removes toxins and poisons before returning it to the body.

After the treatment is finished, patients then have to wait for transport being available which could mean them getting home in the late afternoon or early evening.

Whilst dialysis is not a painful process it leaves patients often feeling very tired. This means a life spent either in treatment or resting in bed.

The Friends of Ludlow Hospital hold fund raising activities throughout the year.

In addition to funding sophisticated medical equipment the League of Friends also pays for basic equipment to improve the experience of in patients, out patients and visitors.

As well as providing a range of clinics Ludlow Hospital also has 26 in-patient beds and a unit for maternity service for pre and post-natal checks but there is no longer a facility where women can give birth.

The cuts in beds over recent years is one of the reasons why health campaigners have concerns about the long-term future of the hospital.

A document from Shropshire Council has indicated that all GP and health facilities in Ludlow could be put in one place although no indication has been given as to where that location might be. Campaigners believe that Ludlow Hospital would not be big enough to accommodate the existing services and the two GP surgeries in the town.

The hospital site had been earmarked for sale for housing before plans for a new hospital and health village were scrapped.