Hostile reactions to bed closures

Norfolk Primary Care Trust has received very hostile reactions to its proposals to close hospital beds in cottage hospitals, according to a report to go before the trust's meeting tomorrow.

Norfolk Primary Care Trust has received very hostile reactions to its proposals to close hospital beds in cottage hospitals, according to a report to go before the trust's meeting tomorrow.

Preliminary results indicate that those attending six consultation meetings across the county were very hostile towards any of their community hospitals being closed and any beds being shut down.

The public said that the needs of patients should be put before the financial situation of the PCT and there were suspicions that decisions were being made too quickly and indeed had already been made.

The PCT's discussion of these results comes as it wrestles with a £50m deficit and proposals that about 120 of the county's 227 community beds should be closed.

Sheila Childerhouse, chairman of the PCT, will be at the meeting at The Links Country Park in West Runton, near Cromer, tomorrow.

She said: "It has been really important to listen to the views of local people who are understandably concerned about the future of services.

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"What we need to do now is ensure people have confidence that care and services will be there when we need them."

However, the message from the dossier is clear.

It says people have told the PCT they do not want any community hospitals - many of which have had a lot of locally donated money ploughed into them - to close.

People said decisions should be based on evidence of patient need and not the financial situation of the PCT.

They also said there should be a choice between receiving care at home or in a community hospital.

They were also concerned about increased travel, for patients to Norwich if community beds were lost, for carers and nurses who would waste time travelling and for relatives wanting to visit.

Public transport was said to be unreliable and people said community hospitals should be expanded and not reduced.

The formal consultation, starting in January, will last 90 days. Copies of the consultation document will be available on the PCT website and from the PCT.