Hospital axes 34 beds to save cash

ONE of the region's biggest hospitals is to close more than 30 beds and cut back on surgery, it was revealed last night.Bosses at the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust yesterday agreed to cut 34 beds – 22 surgical and 12 medical – and slash 11 theatre sessions a week, which is the equivalent of closing one theatre.

ONE of the region's biggest hospitals is to close more than 30 beds and cut back on surgery, it was revealed last night.

Bosses at the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust yesterday agreed to cut 34 beds - 22 surgical and 12 medical - and slash 11 theatre sessions a week, which is the equivalent of closing one theatre.

The move comes as the trust battles to save up to £18.6 million in the current financial year, amid spiralling debts which threaten to bring Suffolk's health system to its knees.

And it is feared that more beds could yet be closed as the trust searches to identify more savings in the ongoing fight with its financial woes.


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Last night Cornelius Coates, chairman of the Ipswich Primary Care Trust Patient and Public Involvement Forum (PPIF), spoke of his dismay at the news.

He said: "Quite frankly it takes your breath away. The Primary Care Trusts and the Acute Trusts are the ones that have brought the debt about and they seem to just be cutting services.

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"We're astonished at the level of the cuts and dismayed because of the effect it's obviously going to have on patient services.

"All these cuts are nibbling away at the edges - I don't know if they've struck at the heart of what it's really necessary to provide - but is there any certainty that they will achieve the savings anyway?

"They will certainly make sure that lives are not at risk but it creates anxiety among people that they're not going to get the best care that is available. That's not good."

Chris Mole, Labour MP for Ipswich, spoke of the need to improve the admission and discharge process for elderly people at the hospital, thus freeing up more beds.

He added: "The important thing remains the hospital's ability to meet their waiting targets.

"The critical thing for people needing elective surgery is going to be the capacity of the hospital to meet its three month waiting time target.

"At the end of the day they've got to deliver those targets with the resources they have."

But Christine Smart, chairman of the hospital trust, said she was confident that the loss of beds would not detract from either patient safety or the quality of care.

She added: "The Board today considered closing as many as 80 beds but as a result of feedback from different groups of staff, we decided on 34.

"However, we still need to identify more savings and the Medical Directorate is committed to further reducing beds following risk assessment and the reduction in delayed transfers of care.

"I am totally confident that the savings we have identified so far and those that we still have to make will have no negative impact on the quality of care we provide.

"In fact, some of the changes we agreed today will result in an improved service for our patients.

"For example, we are going to develop a pre-assessment, admission and discharge unit to improve patient flow which will result in better fitness checks and better screening of patients for infections like MRSA."

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