16 August 2012: Dr Ashok Bhalla, Medical Director of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD) was interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol this morning accompanied by Daniel Lawton, a patient from the RNHRD, regarding the planned merger with Royal United Hospital (RUH) in the Spring of 2013. Dr Bhalla explained that 'rather than services going through attrition it is better to plan a sound merger with a larger organisation which will secure the services and, more importantly, secure the quality of those services'.
Dr Bhalla went on to say that although the RNHRD will be a part of a bigger hospital his foremost interest is clinical so he will definitely be fighting to preserve the quality of those services and would be against the merger if the quality cannot be guaranteed.
Daniel Lawton was quick to point out the importance of the services at the RNHRD, particularly the residential AS course which offers a wholistic treatment over 10 days and is attended by people from all over England and Scotland. He also highlights that the venue of the course is just as important as the treatment for patients and there is uncertainty to where the course will be held and how will it run in the future.
Dr Bhalla said 'I think it is important that services like those for ankylosing spondylitis which are very valued and which have got good clinical outscomes are going to exist, they are going to be preserved, they will carry on'.
On the subject of finances and the actual hospital buildings, Dr Bhalla believes the RNHRD will be in a better position financially when it merges with the RUH and, that at the moment, services including the buildings will be joining up with the RUH.
As far as he understands there will be no major shift of services come Spring 2013. If there are going to be any changes they will be done gradually after they have been carefully worked through with consultation with patients and with clinicians.
Anyone wishing to listen to the full interview can 'listen again' on BBC Radio Bristol. The interview on the Breakfast with Steve Le Fevre programme starts at 1.09 hours into the show.
15 August 2012: Dr Ashok Bhalla, Medical Director at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases is to be interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol at 7.40am on Thursday 16 August 2012 following a media release issued by the RNHRD earlier this week stating that the Boards of the RNHRD and the Royal United Hospital NHS Trust (RUH) have approved the intention to come together. Click on the link to listen to the live broadcast or download a copy of the media release.
Kirsty Matthews, Chief Executive of the Min says 'We have been intending to join with the RUH for some time and we are now working with our healthcare partners to identify next steps' while Dr Bhalla gives assurances that during the transition period the 'Min' (as the RNHRD is more affectionately known) will remain fully operational; all patients are continuing to receive the high quality care that the Min is renowned for.
If you have any views about the forthcoming plans or concerns about the services offered at the Min please do add your comments on our RNHRD campaigning page.