Health chiefs grilled over proposal to close Halesworth hospital

The Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth.

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

Further assurances the Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth will not close until a replacement facility is fully operational were made at a meeting into the plans on Tuesday night.

An audience of more than 220 people attended as Andy Evans, chief executive of the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), was grilled on the proposals along with chairman Dr John Stammers, chief nurse Cath Gorman and chairman of East Coast Community Healthcare Jonathan Williams.

The CCG consultation over plans to close Patrick Stead and Southwold community hospitals is on the grounds that they are becoming increasingly expensive to run. In Halesworth, NHS beds would be installed into a privately-run care home – Castle Meadow – which has not yet been built, nor has it received planning permission.

Out-of-hospital doctors, nurses and other health and social care staff would be introduced to provide care within patients' homes. In-patient beds at Beccles Hospital would be available for people needing more immediate care.

The panel promised at no point would a patient need to pay for a bed at the care home for NHS-related treatment, and that they would be reserved for NHS use 365 days a year.

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In addition, Mr Evans said that IV fluids, oxygen and mobile scanning systems would continue to be available, and that it was hoped the CCG could enter into a five-year contract with care home owners rather than on a year-by-year basis in a bid to secure services long term.

'The plan is not to close Patrick Stead Hospital until we have replacement beds with care available,' Mr Evans said.

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'We are trying to create as many services delivered from Halesworth as possible. 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.'

Mr Williams said figures, which showed admissions to community hospitals in the East of England had reduced by 5pc in the past year, demonstrated the service could cope.

'The vast majority of care we provide is in homes through district nurses,' he said. 'One thing we can't disagree on is the service needs to modernise. The aging population isn't as far in the future as it was. It's right upon us and demand is growing. We have got to think differently about the way our workforce looks. The fact that we have dropped admissions shows that we can do the job.'

However, the meeting failed to quell all concerns, including over palliative care, with some residents concerned figures which show that 90pc of people get their wish of where they want to die could fall.

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

A decision on the proposals will be announced on November 5.

To view the consultation documents visit

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