Fury at plan to close hospital ward

By Danielle NuttallA UNION official has criticised a hospital's proposal to close a ward, claiming it would inevitably result in fewer beds.Ipswich Hospital is considering closing the 28-bed Washbrook ward, insisting the move was not aimed at cutting services, but at changing the way care was provided.

By Danielle Nuttall

A UNION official has criticised a hospital's proposal to close a ward, claiming it would inevitably result in fewer beds.

Ipswich Hospital is considering closing the 28-bed Washbrook ward, insisting the move was not aimed at cutting services, but at changing the way care was provided.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said there would be roughly the same number of beds if the closure went ahead, due to the freeing up of other beds used by bed-blockers - patients who are well enough to leave, but have to stay as there are no care places available for them.

But Tony Jones, regional officer of Unison, said: “The position in relation to delayed discharge people is it takes time to place these people.

“Certainly this ward closure is imminent and as such they will not have sufficient time to relocate these people to free beds, so yes, it's inevitable there will be a reduction in beds.

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“If they have had the common decency to discuss this with the people who care for these people, we might have been able to look at suitable alternatives.”

He added: “They are about to consult with staff on that ward with the decision being already taken, which is totally unsatisfactory to the staff who actually work on the frontline.

“I'm extremely disappointed and I'm sure a lot of members are extremely angry.”

Mr Jones said he would not be surprised if the closure happened within the next week, although Ms Rowsell insisted the hospital had not yet made a final decision on the issue.

She said: “It's a change rather than a cut in services. There are no job redundancies at all - no jobs will be lost. It's a possible closure. It's being consulted, but it has not been formally decided at all.

“We are absolutely committed to open and honest communication with everyone, that includes our staff. The staff affected by the possibility have been personally informed.”

Ms Rowsell added: “We have to think about the financial implications of everything we do. The health and social care system does face a very challenging time.

“We have to make the best use of the money we have been given. We are suggesting these changes because of better use of this money.

“Even if Washbrook closes, we will have roughly the same number of beds in the hospital as a whole because we will be able to free up the beds of those who do not need to be there.”

Mr Jones said he was in the process of arranging a meeting with health bosses to discuss the proposal and the effect it would have on the community and staff. “I would like to see the rationale behind the closure,” he added.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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