Clock ticking on hospital bed cuts

Time is running out for people to have their say on the possible closures of community hospitals in Norfolk.A 90-day consultation period finishes on Tuesday after which the cash-strapped Norfolk Primary Care Trust will decide whether or not to press ahead with hospital closures and cut the the number of community beds from 201 to 158.

Time is running out for people to have their say on the possible closures of community hospitals in Norfolk.

A 90-day consultation period finishes on Tuesday after which the cash-strapped Norfolk Primary Care Trust will decide whether or not to press ahead with hospital closures and cut the the number of community beds from 201 to 158.

The PCT, which is £49m in debt, has said responses to its consultation are coming in “thick and fast”.

Meanwhile, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is about to deliver a further 5,000-name petition against the cuts to the government, in addition to an earlier 8,000-signature protest.

PCT bosses have said sweeping changes are needed not only to save money but to improve intermediate care services across the board.

But the proposals have provoked anger across the county.

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As well as more home care, the PCT has proposed the following:

Sites at Dereham, Norwich and either North Walsham or Kelling being developed as the core sites for intermediate care beds.

Swaffham, Ogden Court in Wymondham, North Walsham and Kelling Hospitals will continue to provide a range of community, outpatient and other services.

Benjamin Court in Cromer and St Michael's Hospital in Aylsham may close and the NHS would no longer use beds at Cranmer House in Fakenham, though social care services would continue.

Yesterday the Norfolk patient and public involvement forum reminded people that they had only a few days left to make their views known.

Reponses can be sent either to the PCT by logging on to its website at www.norfolk-pct.nhs.uk or to the PPI forum at Freepost RLYJ-AGET-UJSJ, Norwich Community Hospital, Norwich, NR2 3TU.

The forum has been sent 900 responses so far to its independent survey. It will use these responses to produce a report before the June 5 deadline.

Mr Lamb said: “The support for our community beds and hospitals has been absolutely tremendous.

“Communities have a deep attachment to their local hospitals. So many people that I've spoken to have personal experiences to share of their own care in these hospitals, and also the care of relatives and close friends.

“They serve a clear clinical need, particularly with an elderly local population living in a very rural area.”

Trish Turner, the PCT's associate director of communications and patient and public involvement, added: “Responses to the consultation are still coming in thick and fast and by a variety of means including emails, letters and MPs on behalf of their constituents.

“We will be analysing all the responses after the closing date and this information will be available as soon as possible.

“We continue to listen to everybody's views and encourage people to give us their opinions which the board will take into account when we make a decision.”

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