DUNCAN BARKES Let’s find a way to save hospital’s restaurant

The NHS occasionally comes under attack. We rarely read positive stories about the NHS, which is why I want to highlight the excellent staff and facilities at Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital.

I have had occasion to attend recently with a relative and was genuinely amazed at the kindness and efficiency of everyone we came into contact with.

I can only presume it has something to do with the size of the operation.

While I accept it may be impractical to return to a time where cottage-style hospitals dominated healthcare, I have reached the conclusion that ‘big’ is not necessarily ‘best’.

At Bognor hospital it is clear a real sense of community exists and staff want to provide the best possible service. It would be ridiculous to suggest such an attitude does not exist in other hospitals, but it may well be that a smaller operation finds it easier to achieve. With this in mind, and with the various services clearly well used and appreciated (alas the excellent dermatology unit has been significantly scaled back), I am puzzled by the decision of the Sussex Community NHS Trust to close the hospital’s restaurant.

Marion’s Restaurant is scheduled to close on Friday, June 1. Whenever I have been at the hospital the restaurant has been full, which makes its imminent closure even more confusing – there is clearly a demand for the facility.

I am led to believe the closure is due to financial reasons, with the existing trust paying rent to a previous, now defunct, trust for space in the building. Such a ludicrous situation should come as no surprise when you consider how messy local healthcare provision has become on the south coast in recent times. We all well remember the absurd ‘Fit for the Future’ proposals which would have seen services at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester decimated.

The decision by the Sussex Community NHS Trust to close Marion’s Restaurant seems very short-sighted. There appears to have been little or no consultation with those who will be affected by its closure, namely patients and staff.

I urge them to postpone the closure and launch a proper consultation. With such a thriving customer base I cannot believe a solution cannot be found to keep the restaurant open and also reduce or remove the cost currently being absorbed by the trust.

The Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital provides a first-class service and a functioning restaurant is part of that experience. With an increasing local population who rely on its services, and no sign of nearby Littlehampton getting its long-promised hospital built, we should be championing and protecting Bognor Hospital’s facilities.

Come on Sussex Community NHS Trust, do the right thing and postpone this closure until every avenue to keeping Marion’s going has been exhausted.

* A royal wave sure to raise a smile

I note with pleasure that several local businesses are pulling out the stops to celebrate the Jubilee.

One that tickles me especially is the waving Queen hoisted above Beaver Tool Hire on the A27 Chichester bypass. Whether Her Majesty would be impressed or not I can’t say, but it certainly makes me smile whenever I drive past.

Email Barkes at duncanbarkes@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @DuncanBarkes