‘It is a very short-sighted decision’ - campaigners protest against closure of Henderson Unit in Norwich
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Campaigners, politicians and health care professional rallied against the impending closure of a hospital unit at a protest in Norwich.
More than 40 people turned out in the city centre on Saturday for a protest, organised by the NHS Norfolk Action Group, against NHS cuts and the closure of the 24-bed Henderson Unit at the Julian Hospital on Bowthorpe Road in Norwich.
The unit, run by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) and Norfolk County Council, is due to close on Friday in a bid to save £2m over two years.
It treats patients who are medically fit to leave hospital but not yet ready live independently or at home.
But protestors on Saturday called the move 'short sighted' and a 'false economy', saying the burden would just be left elsewhere.
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Mark Randall, of the Norwich Labour trade union, said: 'Closing it will mean 24 more expensive beds being used at the N&N. They can't afford to close this ward.'
His message was echoed by Lesley Grahame, a Green party Norwich City Councillor, who said: 'If people aren't getting their care then the burden will fall onto community nurses, and nurses can't be sustainable when they are so overworked.'
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Neither the N&N, which is in financial special measures, nor the area's clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which must save more than £30m this year, will fund the unit.
Speaking at the protest, outside St Peter Mancroft church, former Norwich MP Ian Gibson said: 'It's all about making money.
'It's clear that the patient comes bottom in the list of concerns.'
Clive Lewis, Norwich South MP, said the closure of the Henderson unit was 'symptomatic' of what was happening in the wider healthcare system.
He said: 'The unit was going to help with the bed blocking that we know we will experience through winter. It is a very short-sighted decision.
'I think for the vast numbers of the public across Norwich and Norfolk who have elderly relatives trying to access health services or have an operation, they understand perhaps better than most just how much the NHS is struggling.'
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