In-patient admissions suspended at Southwold Hospital over concerns of patient safety

The hospital is to suspend new in-patients for three months from Friday due to shortages of trained nursing staff.

Anyone needing in-patient care is being told to instead visit the Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth, Beccles Community Hospital or Northgate Hospital, Great Yarmouth, however these will also be running at reduced capacity due to the nursing shortages.

The decision to suspend admissions at Southwold Hospital has been taken by East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH).

This decision will be reviewed by ECCH and the NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in November.

All four of the community hospitals are included in the CCG’s current ‘shape of the system’ public consultation, which is looking into closing the hospitals, which is running until September 2.

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Jonathan Williams, chief executive of ECCH said: “This has not been an easy decision to take but patient safety must come first. ECCH is a very popular local employer, but we will have a current vacancy rate of 40% amongst our trained nursing staff in our community hospitals; this includes sickness absence, maternity leave and vacancies. This is largely due to uncertainty around the public consultation that is running at the moment, and it has been difficult to recruit new staff until a clear future is decided.

“Patient and staff safety is our priority. Continuing to admit patients to three of the four hospitals is the best outcome in this very difficult situation. I want to pay tribute to all our community hospital staff who are taking a flexible approach to this challenge. We are fortunate to have such a strong and dedicated team.”

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Cath Gorman, chief nurse at NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We fully support ECCH’s decision and have been working closely with them over the last few days to agree the best way to continue to provide safe care in our community hospitals. The out of hospital teams run by ECCH in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth are working hard providing excellent care to patients, already reducing the need for admission to community hospitals.”

Kate Gill, director of operations at the CCG said: “We know this decision will be a real worry to the people of Southwold. I want to confirm today that we remain committed to a new build of a nursing/care home in Reydon on land owned by the NHS, adjacent to the Sole Bay Health Centre.”

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