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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 10:00 GMT
Radio closure worries campaigners
Buckland Hospital
A public consultation on health services in Dover is under way
Health campaigners say the closure of a hospital radio station confirms fears that services are under threat.

Campaigners fighting to save Buckland Hospital in Dover, Kent, are worried by an e-mail from a manager admitting patient numbers would inevitably fall.

Gateway Hospital Broadcasting Service (GHBS) is to close on 22 December after being told its days were numbered.

East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust denied that any decision had been made to close Buckland Hospital.

The radio station e-mailed the hospital manager for advice when it had 600 worth of insurance and Performing Rights Society bills looming.

The reply said the changing way the trust was managing its patients would naturally lead to a reduction in the use of Buckland Hospital.

It was told: "You should seriously consider an earlier finish rather than later".

Straw in the wind

"We have a great deal of trouble fund-raising at the moment because people's conception of the hospital is that it will eventually close," said GHBS manager Terry Nunn.

"We have decided to pull the plug and we are actually going to close on 22 December."

Dover MP Gwynn Prosser said: "They keep telling me officially that Buckland is not going to close.

"This most recent straw in the wind, where we are told that numbers are inevitably going to reduce, is of further concern to me."

In a statement, East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust said that because of medical advances and more efficient services, the amount of time patients spent in hospital was reducing dramatically.

"In this context, the hospital manager was unable to reassure Terry that his listening figures would pick up and agreed with Terry's suggestion that, given the financial strain on the broadcasting service, it would be sensible to close," it said.

The radio station also serves Victoria Hospital, Deal, via a VHF link.


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