At the end of June 1999 we were asked to attend a meeting at the board room Heatherwood hse to
receive a briefing from the trust and the only item on the agenda was patient Line. We were asked to attend this
meeting with Wexham Radio as well as representatives from the league.
When we questioned the need for Wexham radio to be there the response was quite clear that the
trust did not want us to discuss the on-going LPAM project.
The last newsletter of the year briefed to all our members how events had taken their course and
by this time, we knew the trust had abandoned our project and it was all but dead. In addition the studio would
not remain in it's current location.
In this the last newsletter for 1999 we receive bombshell news about our premises, low
power AM on hold and a newsletter
which is a bit short of Christmas Cheer.
It gives us no pleasure to inform you all of the impending closure of the current studio
complex. Why ?
I thought I would update you on some rumours which we had heard about some three years ago.
Our contacts with staff on the hospital had informed us on a couple of occasions that the
hospital had planned to move the radio station to accommodate out-patients departments or A/E.
Because of the work that we had just completed when the new reception room was added, we decided at the next
league of friends meeting we would try and force the hospitals hand at this and also see what the reaction was
to our statement. That if the hospital planned to move the radio studio we would call it a day.
Having sown the seed in Hospital Reps mind. This didn't stem the gossip we were getting.
In July last year when we wrote to the hospital about low power am it was only after a further
letter in September/October was the meeting organised for last December to discuss low power AM.
At the meeting a request from hospital reps, “ how would we feel if the radio studio had to move
“?. Surprise surprise, we were at last to be asked our feelings. In no uncertain terms we told them that any
move to new premises would be at the hospital’s cost and that they would have to carry out all the work and that
they should seriously consider what this might mean.
We were told this was just a hypothetical scenario which might not come off. But the plan the
Hospital planner had, was already two years on the drawing board. We said we would’t be happy with a move but if
the hospital decided this was the only route we would have to go along with it.
In the interests of staff morale we decided that we would not disclose the discussions at that
time. Especially as they were un-decided. ( begs the question, was the meeting arranged to pay us lip service on
low power AM to sound us out on a possible move ? ).
The rumours have continued throughout this year these have been confirmed with a visit by myself
to the hospital to do a job for one of the departments in my role as a BT engineer. Information passed to me (
August ) is that a building has already been earmarked for us and that the A&E/outpatients will be moving
into the ground floor of the maternity unit with a possible new entrance where Radio Heatherwood. currently is.
This to happen sooner than later.
This opens up a whole new can of worms with the hospital and puts into question just exactly
what kind of radio services are the patients going to have access to?.
The hospital intend to move the minor injuries unit to the ground floor of maternity. Radio
Heatherwood will have to vacate the current studios by the end of April 2000. This information was finally given
to us At the league meeting on Monday 15th November 1999.
We did always hope this would not come off but the reality is we have to move!.
In June we were asked to attend a meeting with the hospital but was banned from discussing low
power AM this was to make way for them to inform us of their intention to install patient line:-
The basic upshot is, the trust intend to spend one million pounds + or more on a system which
will put at each bed the facility to have TV. radio and your own personal telephone at both hospitals sites?.
Sounds a good idea apart from the cost, until you realise the downsides. They only target wards
which have patients who are not showing signs of dementia or mental illness, special care or children’s wards.
To make the system pay they encourage patients to use the TV/phone which is chargeable also encouraging them to
get their relatives to phone them whilst in hospital. These calls are charged at premium rates i.e. 50p a
minute. The long term aim is to raise profits from the system once capital costs have been recouped.
A survey conducted recently says that only 120 beds at Heatherwood. would be viable but Wexham
could go ahead.
For technical reasons they say Heatherwood has a problem at present I think it’s more a case of
it needs 350 beds to make the system pay.
It was also mentioned by the hospital about the league at both sites perhaps helping with
funding or subsidies ?
They have intimated that it is not finalised yet but the overall impression we got, was they
intend to press ahead with it, I think they were hoping that we would cancel our commitment to current services
and the Low power AM in favour of this system.
I don’t believe they have thought this through very well, because no mention was given to the
fact what happens to the wards where it is not installed.
They may have banned us from mentioning LPAM at the meeting but afterwards I pulled department
director to one side and spent a long and sometimes heated discussion on why we are getting no response from the
hospital over LPAM. He says he will respond within the next couple of weeks,( He Did’t Reply ).
The proposal by the hospital to introduce patient line and the intention to move the radio
studio throws the whole future of the radio into question.
I would like to say that I’m optimistic about the future but I can’t, we are fighting an uphill
struggle on both fronts one thing is for sure the next six months will see a radical change to the radio.
We have posted a three page letter to the director of operations outlining our disgust at our
treatment and also asking the trust to give careful consideration to our proposals.
We have asked for a clear statement on their intentions. We wait and see ?
One thing is for sure if they decide to opt for patient line and nothing else Radio Heatherwood
will lose two people that I know of !.
Radio Heatherwood has suffered it’s own millennium bomb. It’s best we let everyone know what the
delays have been and why despite our best efforts we have been ...... on.
This news I'm sure will come as a complete shock to some of you and we very much feel the same.
I am writing to you with regard to two subjects which are about to affect the radio services at
Heatherwood Hospital. The move of the radio studio and the proposed introduction of patient line at the
exclusion of all other radio systems.
In July 1998 I wrote to XXX asking for the trusts view on the possible introduction of the Low
Power AM System.
In December 1998 we were asked to attend a meeting with XXX and XXX and XXX to discuss the
proposals. Our understanding was from this meeting that the trust would be favourable to this system. At the
same meeting we were asked hypothetically how we would feel if the trust had to move the radio studio. Whilst we
would not relish the idea we agreed that if the hospital were in need of the area we would have to accept it. It
was intimated at the time that such a move might be less complicated if we were to adopt the new system and not
re-connect to the old cable networks.
Long before the trust decided to discuss the move with us we were constantly being told that we
were moving. This we thought was a little strange as no discussions had been made. Subsequently over this past
year we have been made aware that the move will go ahead, yet we had not been informed officially.
At the league meeting on Monday 15th November we are told that the trust wants the radio to move and be out of
our premises by end of April next year.
This leads to the dilemma of what radio systems are going to be reconnected and at such a short
time scale what is the future for the radio service.
In June we were asked to attend a meeting with Radio Wexham & XXXX to be informed about the
proposal on the introduction of Patient Line. Prior to the meeting we were banned from discussing the low power
am project despite the fact we were not receiving answers to letters dating back to February and April.
We listened to the presentation and found it very informative but feel this will not be the panacea of all ills:
like all systems it has it’s good points and bad. We are not opposed to the introduction of any system but
between us we have lots of experience of other hospital sites and installations and know of the pitfalls of
single systems of delivery.
We took the opportunity to address xxxx after the meeting to consider what we are trying to
achieve with the Low Power AM. We also made it plain that you should not put all your eggs in one basket The
other radio services which are available can complement existing. Further copies of the LPAM aerial site options
with photos were passed to xxxx. We were promised that an answer would be forthcoming in the next couple of
weeks. This hasn’t materialised.
I have enclosed a copy of the project folder which was drawn up with the intention of raising
the funds for the Low Power AM Service. In addition you will find attached to this letter a copy of the expected
coverage area should such a system be installed. We are not allowed to advertise the fact but it brings endless
opportunities which could be attained for the future of Heatherwood.
The low power am has a downside, there are only limited frequencies available, the longer a
delay in deciding, the less likely we will be successful in securing a frequency licence. We are in the
fortunate position we have the staff and personnel with the technical skills to see this project through. In
years to come this might not be the case.
Low power Am is not a current fad, it has been born out of long term negotiations between the
National Association and the government as a means to lighten the expense of hospital radios and ensure they can
continue their activities at hospitals. The original negotiations were for an FM frequency this proved
impossible, the result from further trials and negotiations was the introduction of Low Power AM. During the
campaign and lobbying of parliament for these types of broadcasting system, we were even able to gain the
support of our own local MP: Mr Andrew Mackay.
An installation of a single aerial now, will prevent long term expense for the League as the
hospital consistently changes.
We should also take into consideration the technology trend, which is to move away from all
cabling systems for your phones, PC's, and miscellaneous equipment. Contact will be by freely radiating
The league sees the future of radio services at Heatherwood as a combination of the Low power AM
and one other, either 100volt bedhead or patient line. Anything less than this will decimate the power of the
radio to reach listeners inside and outside the site at Heatherwood.
Our only concern is to be able to deliver a radio service which is not a
financial burden for it’s volunteers, can cope with building changes at the hospital and can reach as wider
audience as possible with a minimum of financial outlay.
It now seems apparent to us that the Patient line system is going to go ahead and proposals and
existing systems will be swept aside.
We believe we have been more than patient with the trust over the above subjects, despite the
fact we have been kept in the dark.
This letter is not a criticism of individuals or the trust, it is intended show the depth of
frustration which is unwittingly being forced upon us through the lack of decision and honesty.
We would ask the trust, to give careful consideration to our proposals, in addition We need a
clear written statement of intent on the future of the radio services as well details on the proposals to move
the radio station ( where to, cost , etc ).
We look forward to your early reply
P J Davidson-Smith
Correspondence Secretary League of Friends & Radio Heatherwood
Cc Roy Ryman Chairman LOF
Cc Dave Smith Station Manager
We must all try and ensure the service is maintained to the best of our abilities over
the coming weeks/month’s. As soon as we know anything we will let you know.
If you have any concerns or would like to voice your comments remember we are always
pleased to see you all.
One final note:- Please do not give out over the air or talk to any member of the
hospital staff what we have written here. Especially don’t say the radio is closing down. At this moment
in time we just don’t know. What we don’t want is the press to get hold of this cos that could make the
whole thing worse. Let’s just wait and see what comes of our correspondence.
After the radio staff had visited Stoke Mandeville in early March, two project folders
were drawn up to promote the project.
Version 1 was for the league and staff and showed a picture of a mug winner on the
20 pages in length it detailed more general details.
Version 2 was for sponsors and fundraising it carried a picture on the front page of how
the heatherwood site might look like in years to come and was taken from a hospital promotional leaflet.
25 pages in length it carried more detail and costs.
As the LPAM project was stalled through the actions of the trust, at a meeting of the
league in November 1999 the hospital rep dropped the news on the league that the trust intended to move
the minor injuries unit and clinics to the ground floor of the maternity unit thus requiring the radio
station to move to new accommodation.
The rumours had come true over the studio move and subsequently