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1999 Low Power AM Cancelled

Millennium Bombshell for Radio Heatherwood

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!.

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Patient Line

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.

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Letter to Hospital :-

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 transmission systems.

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

Yours faithfully
P J Davidson-Smith
Correspondence Secretary League of Friends & Radio Heatherwood
Cc Roy Ryman Chairman LOF
Cc Dave Smith Station Manager

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1999 Year Twenty Three Story Unfolds

1999 was a very busy year for the station management and as the year unfolded there was much to do and organise

For further information about this year:- Follow the links

Correspondence & Discussions

In 1998 the publication of the articles in the Nahbo magazine and also the mail shot to us from Radica prompted our investigations into the feasibility of bringing the LPAM to Heatherwood.

In 1998 the idea was investigated and as 1999 progressed the station engineer was moving the idea forward and collating the required information so the idea could become a reality.

The folder on AM included this facing page which changed a number of times from
this picture.

Click to Enlarge:-

July 1998

The first fax to Radica with questions regarding the emerging service.

August 1998

Whilst Radica attended the site for repairs and servicing on the inductive loop, a preliminary review of the site was carried out to determine where we would be a good location for the single aerial.

October 1998

Initial survey results with options is received. Five locations are identified, Option B is recommended by Radica and puts the aerial by the lockup garages adjacent to Heatherwood Hse.

Listening tests in the EMI unit at night were recommended to see if local am station reaches inside.

November 1998

30th November Meeting with hospital approves the development of the LPAM as the new way to deliver radio services to the site.

In addition the Hospital raise the question what would be required if the radio was to move location.

The minor injuries unit may end up on the ground floor of the maternity unit.

December 1998

Option D is selected as the most appropriate location. On the access road close to the EMI Unit.

A letter is sent to the hospital along with information about the construction of the aerial.

Letter to Windsor & Maidenhead council requesting information about planning permission for aerial.

Letters to PPL and MCPS requesting information on likely charges.

Email to Broadcast co uk about using wavestation as a sustaining service, likely costs.

January 1999

Letter from MCPS licence requirements.

February 1999

Letter to Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead planning application forms.

Receipt of Planning application forms.

March 1999

Chase hospital for answer to request for aerial sites,originally requested at February league meeting

Tel/call discussion with hospital rep option D a possibility must be other side of road.

Letter to hospital rep outlining telephone call timetable.

Letter to Radio Authority requesting licence application.

Email to Radica Option D can it be moved.

April 1999

LPAM project folders are completed, one for staff and league and one for fundraising and sponsors.

Staff & League Project Folder, PDF Download

Further letter to hospital rep including project folder.

Full Project Folder, PDF Download

Email to Radica When would a site visit be desirable.

Receipt of application forms from Radio Authority.

To complete, we need aerial & TX Location, Grid Ref,Confirmation Letter From Trust, Height Above Sea Level, Site Map with Boundary, 2 copies +£200 application Fee.

League of friends meeting request made to hospital to supply site boundary plan plus letter of support including request to arrange TX site location. League endorses their support.

LPAM Folder Project League And Staff
Front Page.

Click to Enlarge:-

May 1999

Letter from hospital on introduction of patient line.

June 1999

Meeting with Hospital reps presentation on patient-line. more drawings passed to hospital.

Work commences on converting all cd's into mp3's for sustaining service.

July 1999

League of friends meeting with hospital no answers.

November 1999

League of friends meeting with hospital no answers, but league informed the studio will have to move by April 2000.

Letter to hospital outlining our position.

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Archive Gems

Just some extra's we found:-

1999 The Story Continues!

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