OPINION: Karin Smyth MP on South Bristol Community Hospital

(Newspaper column as seen in the October 2019 edition of The Pigeon)

I’ve spoken before about my concern over the recommissioning of adult community health services in the region. Last month, Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) announced it had awarded a £1bn 10-year contract to deliver adult community  health services to a new provider – Sirona. Changing provider is a high risk move and I’m concerned about the impact of this on health services in Bristol South.   

One of my main concerns is what it will mean for South Bristol Community Hospital (SBCH). The CCG has acknowledged that the healthcare need is greater in Bristol South. We fought hard to get this important facility built in Bristol South in 2012. It has so much potential to deliver a whole range of services but seems to be under-used currently. I am determined to change this.  

I’ve spoken with people who have used the hospital and have heard lots of positive comments about the space, the staff and the treatment they receive and how easy it is to access the services.  

The Hengrove hospital currently provides care to about 32,000 patients annually in Bristol South. The SBCH, has an urgent care centre which is open daily from 8am to 8pm. No referral or pre-booked appointment is necessary: you can just arrive and be seen. For minor injuries and illnesses, there’s no need to go to the City Centre. The SBCH is easy to reach with good public transport links.  

The hospital offers a range of screening, physiotherapy, sexual health services and dental healthcare. It is also home to groups which support carers and older people. The building is just seven years old and still has that new feeling. There’s been investment into the grounds, with a garden and children’s play area created by hospital charity Above & Beyond.  

There is still work to be done. A 2016 HealthWatch report suggested adding a patient shop, making more use of volunteers and strengthening ties with the local authority with a view to being able to discharge people earlier.   

And, should there be funding for enough staff, SBCH hospital has the potential to be able to offer a whole host of new services. The University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, released its 2025 vision earlier this year. It proposes to deliver: ‘a future model of care for South Bristol Community Hospital as a vibrant local community health and care facility for the people living in the South Bristol locality’. That is something I really want to see.  

I will keep speaking up for first-rate NHS provision in Bristol South, and look forward to seeing SBCH better used.