Thursday, September 14, 2017

South Petherton Hospital League of Friends

An article for local newsletter about our League of Friends

South Petherton Hospital League of Friends

The League is a small dynamic charity that is run entirely by volunteers who are passionate about the hospital and its local community. Our members support The League through their annual subscriptions and are kept up to date with the League’s valuable activities through our website, newsletters and events.

The old hospital that many (if not most) of us have had reason to be grateful for was replaced by a wonderful new facility after structural failures. It had served the community well for over 40 years.

The new hospital has 24 inpatient beds of which 16 are dedicated to specialist stroke rehabilitation. The hospital has one ward, The Mary Robertson Ward. As well as inpatients the hospital caters for outpatients with 100 people or so every day receiving treatment in from a range of specialist units, or being taken through diagnostic tests.

The matron since 1975 was Mary Robertson, who is a legend. Her dedication and passion for the hospital was recognised when a ward was named after her not just in the old hospital but the new one as well.

Mary was for many years the Chair of the League of Friends and we are so grateful for the inspirational way she worked on linking the hospital with the community at large. This is work that we wish to continue and it is a delight to be able to share our plans with Mary and get her advice.

The league has a charitable intent that spreads wider than just the inpatients or the hospital itself. Our object is ‘to relieve patients and former patients of the Hospital and other invalids in the community who are sick, convalescent, disabled, handicapped, infirm or in need of financial assistance and generallto support the charitable work of the Hospital.’ This is a wide remit and we approach each of its aspects very seriously;  a committee elected by the members at our Annual General Meeting works very hard to generate funds to pass on for the good of patients, staff and the community at large.

The League of Friends of South Petherton Hospital has donated £25,000 towards a second CT scanner for Yeovil Hospital. The new scanner ensures that Yeovil Hospital always has a scanner available – particularly important for anyone who has had a stroke, as an immediate diagnosis is vital to delivering appropriate treatment and ensuring as full a recovery as possible. The scanner will also be used for other emergencies such as head and chest injuries, and in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients. Chief executive of Yeovil Hospital’s NHS Trust, Paul Mears, said: “The second scanner will dramatically improve the service we are able to offer to the 10,000 local patients who require a CT scan each year, including many South Petherton residents. “We were delighted to hear of this very generous donation from the League of Friends of South Petherton Hospital towards this vital piece of equipment and I would like to offer my sincere thanks on behalf of all at Yeovil Hospital.”

The League of Friends funded many enhancements to the new hospital and continues to support the health and wellbeing of patients in the local community through a variety of initiatives.
  • Research into stroke rehabilitation to provide an evidence base upon which future best practice can be developed
  • Tai Chi and Yoga classes.
  • Tilt-in-space shower chair
  • WiFi for patients and visitors
  • Expressive Movement Therapy  (innovative research unique to the hospital)
  • Transport bursary for Life After Stroke Club attenders.
Most recently and thanks to your donations, the X-ray department now has a “Simple Up” step – a sturdy, adjustable platform with supporting bars and remote control.    
The Simple Up has a smooth up and down movement and supports patients safely, leaving the radiographer free to take the x-ray without having to worry about the patient falling.
It also enables the radiographer to work comfortably and safely, reducing the possibility of back and other problems.
Susan Hartnell-Beavis has written a booklet that offers helpful and practical insights for those caring for loved ones in Somerset.
 It has proven so popular with Carers that the League of Friends of South Petherton Hospital were delighted to fund the re-printing of the booklet when the first edition ran out.
The ‘If Only I’d Known That’ booklet is given to patients and their families when leaving hospital. The contents are written in an extremely kind and informativeway,by a lady who, unexpectedly, became a carer for her beloved husband.
As well as our donations and funding of innovative research the League of Friends is very aware of the changes going on in the health and care communities across the country.

In Somerset we are closely engaged with the Clinical Commissioning Group who are the body responsible for the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) which is working with providers such as Somerset Partnership Trust (who run our hospital). To make sure the widest audience were able to hear at first hand what is going on with the STP South Petherton League of Friends organised a public meeting in January 2017 were a packed house heard from Dr Nick Broughton, Chief Executive of Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Geoff Barr, member of ‘Keep our NHS Public’.

We have followed up that public meeting by attending the Annual General Meeting of the Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that our strong desire is recognised to be active participants in the planning for Somerset as a whole and our hospital in particular. We will vigorously pursue engagement with consultations as they begin in earnest later this year and will keep members up to date on future plans as they emerge.

We are now working closely with the South Petherton Community Partnership (SPCP), and look forward to developing responses to issues in the local community in partnership with others in the SPCP.

Each year we run Christmas coffee mornings and participate in the hospital’s annual fete. We are now working closely with the South Petherton Community Partnership to support local health and wellbeing. Look out for our lovely new shopping bags, pens and of course our famous Christmas Cards…..
The League of Friends is run entirely by volunteers, so apart from expenses such as postage and stationery, all donations to the League are used to help the hospital and its community.
All donations are well used and much appreciated! You can donate for free (to you and to us) at

Thank you for reading about us – why not join the League of Friends as we spread our wings and get even more involved in the health and wellbeing of our local community. You can contact us through email or via our website

Paull Robathan

Chair, South Petherton Hospital League of Friends

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