Hospice could take over threatened Southwold hospital
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A hospice has offered to work with healthcare providers to try and save two community hospitals under threat of closure by using one of them for new end-of-life services.
Southwold Hospital and the Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth - along with beds at Northgate and All Hallows hospitals - have been earmarked for closure by Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) HealthEast.
It has proposed providing more NHS-funded 'beds with care' in local nursing homes instead.
However, just 21 per cent of people who responded to a recent public consultation into the plans supported closing Southwold and Patrick Stead hospitals.
St Elizabeth Hospice – which provides community and day services across east Suffolk – has approached the CCG to see if one of the hospitals could be used for the provision of palliative care beds.
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Chief executive Mark Millar explained: 'Our new five-year strategy outlines our plans to work in partnership with other providers in east Suffolk and Waveney so that we can meet the currently unmet needs of those living with a progressive illness or who are approaching the end of life.
'We believe that with the same public support we receive in the Ipswich area, we can offer people an alternative to hospice care, help the hard-pressed NHS budget and save at least one of these two hospitals. These are well-loved institutions.'
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Mr Millar said the hospice would have to choose between setting up a base at the Patrick Stead or Southwold Hospital.
Even then the hospice would have to consider the costs of running a service, whether the buildings are suitable, how much support the CCG would give and how much money it could raise before making a final decision.
However Mr Millar said: 'There is the potential to satisfy the local community, save the NHS money and give people a better service.'
Rebecca Driver, of HealthEast, said: 'We will consider all helpful and innovative suggestions once a final decision has been made on the proposals on November 5.'
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