Health chiefs grilled over proposals to close community hospital

The Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth.

The Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth. - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

Further assurances that the Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth would not close until a replacement facility with “beds with care” was fully operational were made at a meeting into the plans last night.

An audience of more than 220 people filled the auditorium at The Cut, with others listening in the canteen area, as chief executive of the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, Andy Evans, its chairman, Dr John Stammers, chief nurse Cath Gorman and chairman of East Coast Community Healthcare were grilled on the proposals.

The CCG is currently running a consultation into plans to close Patrick Stead and Southwold community hospitals on the grounds that they are becoming increasingly expensive to run.

In Halesworth, NHS beds would be installed into a privately-run care home – which has not yet been built .

The CCG also intends to introduce out-of-hospital doctors, nurses and other health and social care staff to provide care in the community and patients’ homes, while in-patient beds at Beccles Hospital would look after people who needed more immediate care.

Questions were fired at the panel for almost two hours, including on how the new beds would be funded, what guarantees could be given that the hospital would not close before new facilities were available, issues with travelling to hospitals further afield and what mental health services would be available.

Mr Evans said: “The plan is not to close Patrick Stead Hospital until we have replacement beds with care available – we are trying to create as many services delivered from Halesworth as possible.

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“The problem is, we live in a rural area.

“It’s not within our gift to manoeuvre bus routes around, but we can work increasingly with the district council looking into the future. Demand is going to rise over the next few years and we need to manage it better.”

Two further consultation meetings will be held at Stella Peskett Hall, Southwold, on Monday and The Comfort Hotel, Great Yarmouth, next Wednesday.

Responses to the consultation will be analysed by a consultant at the University of East Anglia and a final decision will be announced by the CCG on November 5.

For a full report of the meeting, see tomorrow’s East Anglian Daily Times.