£207m six-bed palliative care plan slammed

Hugh Sturzaker

Hugh Sturzaker - Credit: Archant

A retired surgeon and an anaesthetist with a special interest in pain relief have hit out at new plans to provide palliative care in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

Willy Notcutt. Photo: Jas Tisdale

Willy Notcutt. Photo: Jas Tisdale - Credit: Archant

Hugh Sturzaker and Willy Notcutt said they both had 'a long-term interest in the management of palliative care patients' but that they had concern over the new contract awarded to East Coast Community Healthcare last week.

The £207m contract will see six palliative care beds opened at Beccles Hospital, with a consultant-led service in the community.

But Mr Sturzaker, a retired surgeon, and Mr Notcutt, an anaesthetist, said the beds should be at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), in Gorleston.

A joint letter from the pair said: 'Palliative care patients require easy access to specially trained doctors and nurses, investigations and occasionally operating theatres.

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'It is also important that their relatives can travel to see them with minimum difficulty.

'We agree that the majority of people wish to die in their own home but for some this is just not possible - either because of the complexity of their condition or that they have no relatives or carers who can look after them.

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'Whereas we welcome the improvement in the community aspects of palliative care we fail to see what is to be gained by having six palliative care beds at Beccles.

'Why not have them at the James Paget which is at the centre of the health district with good public transport facilities?

'Would it not be wiser for East Coast Community Healthcare to work closely with the James Paget and develop a centralised area in the hospital for palliative care patients?'

However Dr Liam Stevens, chairman of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: 'Ensuring that everyone in Great Yarmouth and Waveney can access modern, high quality palliative care is a priority for the CCG.

'The majority of patients tell us they would prefer to die in the comfort of their own homes rather than in a hospital bed.

'This new contract will help us to give people that choice by ensuring they can access consultant-led services within the community which meet the highest national standards and are in line with current best practice.'

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