IT is claimed that changes that resulted in Ludlow losing its planned new hospital and health village in 2012 are behind the problems with social care when the coronavirus struck.

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

Mr Corfield also fears that costs associated with dealing with Covid-19 will rule out hopes of additional investment in the town’s community hospital.

“The continuing high cost of coping with Covid-19, including provision of the Nightingale facilities and other related capital investments makes it unlikely that we will see, in Ludlow, any benefit from the stalled FutureFit proposals,” said Mr Corfield.

“It is clear that we will, however, be required to soldier on with buildings that were beginning to collapse in 1839 and are today surrounded by scaffolding advertising third world accommodation.”

He is angry that the NHS is having to pay its property arm nearly £15,000 a week for the Ludlow Hospital.

“It is a criminal folly that Ludlow Hospital should be forced to pay NHS Property Services a punitive rent of some £700,000 a year, a penalty which directly affects every cost of providing a service locally,” Mr Corfield added.

The chairman of the League of Friends remains bitter at the changes to Government rules that cost Ludlow the chance of a new hospital on the Eco Park that was pulled just weeks before building was due to start.

“It is also highly regrettable that the lofty aims of the Health and Social Care Bill introduced in 2012, and which caused the cancellation of the Ludlow new build project, should have resulted in the care industry becoming the poor relation when Covid struck,” Mr Corfield said.

“For a number of years, we have discussed options to aid the transition of patients from acute hospital to Community Hospital to care home or care at home – but there is a singular lack of foresight or imagination from Trusts or Commissioners.

“It is our firm belief that care closer to home is the key and this should be provided by properly equipped, staffed, and designed hubs based on Community Hospitals, such as Ludlow. One day someone will listen!

“There is scope and need for a closer relationship between the NHS and Social Care, including better training and career paths within the care industry, common supply and logistics facilities.

“Now is the time to learn lessons from this crisis based on recent bitter experiences.”