As hospitals across the country face NHS cutbacks, a community facility in Wisbech continues to go from strength to strength thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers.
The Friends of Wisbech Hospitals has been supporting the town’s North Cambs Hospital for 61 years and spent more than £250,000 on improving facilities there in the last five years alone.
This year, the Friends are expected to spend around £150,000 – one of their biggest annual amounts to date – as a number of refurbishment projects come to fruition.
Malcolm Bruce, the Friends’ public relations officer, said the group has a good reputation in the local community and is lucky to receive most of its income from bequests.
“We also raise a lot of money from fundraising,” he said. “Everything is then ploughed back into the hospital for the benefit of local people and people in King’s Lynn.
“It has done a fantastic job over the years and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that if it wasn’t for the Friends, I don’t think the hospital would still be here.”
Recent projects funded by the Friends have included the refurbishment of the hospital’s main reception area, at a cost of around £60,000, redecoration of the corridors and replacement of flooring in the Day Rehabilitation Unit.
They have also funded equipment for the endoscopy unit with new digital x-ray computers, at a cost of £55,000, as well as state-of-the-art adjustable beds with pressure relieving equipment and much more.
Upcoming projects to be funded by the Friends include a major redevelopment of Peckover Ward, the purchase of art work for the corridors, equipment for community nurses and new baby changing facilities.
Mr Bruce said the Friends group was formed in 1953, just five years after the NHS was founded, and has been led by current chair Eileen Plater MBE for the last thirty years.
It’s annual fundraising events include its popular Petal, Pie and Punch event in April and summer barbecue, which this year is being held on Friday, July 18, at 6.30pm. Tickets, costing £8, are available by contacting the hospital on 01945 488088.
It is also selling fundraising wristbands throughout the hospital, at a suggested cost of £2 each.
The Friends are looking forward to a bit of a revamp themselves too, as members have recently run a new logo and poster competition with the town’s Isle College students. The poster design winner was Frankie Carter, and the logo design winner was Rachel Humphrey. The designs are due to come into use later in the year.
Tracey Cooper, community manager for the Fens, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “We’re privileged to be supported by the Friends of North Cambs Hospital who have such a dedicated team of volunteers working tirelessly throughout the year.”
With the support of the Friends, the trust is able to provide a wide range of services from the hospital including outpatient clinics, phlebotomy, palliative day care, palliative inpatient care, endoscopy, ante and postnatal care, physiotherapy, radiology, day rehabilitation and falls, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and a walk-in minor injuries service.