Concern over services at new hospital
FEARS have been voiced that services at a new multi-million pound hospital are suffering or being cancelled due to a lack of funding.The £12 million Fryatt Hospital and Medical Centre in Harwich opened in September but town councillors have complained that it is not yet fully operational.
By Annie Davidson
FEARS have been voiced that services at a new multi-million pound hospital are suffering or being cancelled due to a lack of funding.
The £12 million Fryatt Hospital and Medical Centre in Harwich opened in September but town councillors have complained that it is not yet fully operational.
Last night health bosses said the hospital was still undergoing a “settling-in period” - but admitted the minor injuries unit had been closed on occasion to cover staff shortages at casualty in Colchester.
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Town and district councillor Steven Henderson said he had received a long list of concerns from residents.
Problems included the minor injuries unit being closed the majority of the time; the day centre being closed with no date for reopening and the operating theatre not being used and there being no opening date.
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Concerns were also raised about the x-ray department not being operational and being due to close permanently in December and fears that the maternity unit could close.
Mr Henderson said: “I am becoming increasingly worried about the amount of rumours and unrest there is in and around Harwich regarding the new Harwich Hospital and the services provided.
“There are serious and worrying concerns.”
Mr Henderson said he feared the problems were being caused by a shortfall of funding for the North East Essex Primary Care Trust, which runs the hospital.
He added he would be requesting answers and may call on Tendring District Council's Scrutiny Committee to look into the situation.
Vickie Williams, town councillor and chairman of Tendring Health Action Group (THAG), said she was also unhappy that the hospital was not running at full strength.
“There are hardly any patients on the wards and only a portable x-ray machine,” said Mrs Williams.
She added that doctors from Dovercourt Health Centre had not moved into their new medical centre so it was standing empty.
Mrs Williams said she had been told a leg ulcer clinic had been closed down and people were being treated at home.
But a spokesman for North East Essex Primary Care Trust said: “The opening of a new hospital will invariably necessitate a settling-in period whilst services are effectively transferred over from the old hospital to the new.
“Referring to the specific points raised by Mr Henderson - as previously stated, there are no plans to discontinue the maternity service at Harwich Hospital.
“The health service elements from the old day centre - such as dentistry and podiatry - are provided at the new hospital whilst the other elements, following a service review, were considered more appropriately provided by a social care service.
“The minor injuries unit has had to close on the odd occasion, due to staff shortages caused by illness, to ensure the continued operation of accident and emergency in Colchester.
“The x-ray service is currently provided using a mobile system prior to the permanent equipment being installed in the spring.
“The opening of the operating theatre has unfortunately been delayed whilst some additional alterations and improvements are made to the theatre.
“Much of the hospital is now fully operational and providing health services befitting the 21st century.
“We are very grateful for people's patience in the meantime whilst we ensure the remaining services are fully integrated.”