Innovative support for hospital

Describing the relationship between South Petherton Community Hospital and its League of Friends (LoF), Matron Heather Ancill explains, “It’s amazing, the LoF are innovative and creative in their approach, and they really listen to us”.

South Petherton is one of 13 community hospitals within the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It operates within the local and national health service, with its fluid and uncertain funding, strategies and policies. Somerset Partnership’s current operation plan states ‘the health and social care economy faces challenges on an unprecedented scale, both in terms of efficiency, cost effectiveness and financial sustainability’ and goes on to describe as ‘unprecedented’ the scale and nature of change required in the next few years.

Despite the changes underway and those yet to come, the hospital appears to be flourishing and serving its community admirably. Indeed in the last annual PLACE assessment, it achieved high marks for non-clinical activities such as: cleanliness; condition, appearance and maintenance of healthcare premises; food and hydration. It even managed to attain 100% for the delivery of care with regards to a patient’s privacy, dignity and wellbeing. In this way the hospital is achieving the Somerset Partnership’s mission of ‘Caring for you in the heart of the community’.

View from the patient garden

Patient garden

Matron Heather Ancill believes that the wealth of positive relationships between staff, partner organisations, patients, their families and friends is central to the success of the hospital. The enduring relationship between the hospital and the League of Friends has meant that a number of important items have been funded over the years, and a deep understanding of the hospital community’s needs has been developed by the LoF.

“All sorts of important items have been purchased, from little things for the patient kitchen and models of spines for the physiotherapists to special mattresses and tilt in space commodes for our stroke rehabilitation patients, and a new bladder-scanner in outpatients. The League of Friends also generously donated £25,000 towards a vital second CT scanner for Yeovil Hospital”.

As well as funding products to improve the daily experiences of patients and staff, the League of Friends has expanded its sponsoring activities, for instance it now provides tai chi from a sitting position and will soon be sponsoring dance movement psychotherapy sessions for patients. According to Heather, “The LoF are more than happy to explore different ways to broaden their relationship with the hospital. They were delighted to be involved with providing the new patient broadband service and have previously even led hospital staff team development activities themselves”. The South Petherton League of Friends has most recently provided funding to support staff involvement in innovative stroke research that is being undertaken at the hospital, led by consultant nurse Ian Evans. He gave a presentation about improving the quality of stroke care for the future at the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 19 April 2016 at the Methodist Hall on Palmer Street, South Petherton.


PLACE: Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment: