Mother tells of fears over cuts to All Hallows hospital beds

Ed Spashett and mum Sandra Bell.

Ed Spashett and mum Sandra Bell. - Credit: Archant

A woman has spoken of her shock at a decision to cut six beds at a Norfolk community hospital where her son has spent the past 11 years.

Edward Spashett was just 16 when he suffered a brain injury in 2002 and as a result now needs 24-hour care.

He moved to All Hallows Hospital in Ditchingham in 2004, and is a patient in St Edmund's House ward, which provides long-term care for patients with physical or sensory disabilities.

South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced last week plans to close the beds as it faces a £6.6m deficit by April 2016.

It issued a 'decommissioning notice' to the hospital on December 7 and originally set a closure date of December 21, which has since been changed to January 7.

Mr Spashett's mum Sandra Bell, who lives in Thurlton, said: 'We are really, really worried and the possible ramifications and what this means for the future of All Hallows.'

She said that although the bed closures do not affect her son at the moment, there were fears that this could be the start of a move to close the hospital completely.

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'I don't know what we would do if that was to happen or where Ed would go,' she said.

'I live in Thurlton, his dad and brother are also close by and the care he gets there is second to none.

'He is one of the family there – we can go in and visit when we want and take the dog.

'It would be devastating and unsettling to be uprooted and moved – an enormous upheaval. He needs 24-hour care and is in a persistent vegetative state.

'He was assessed earlier this year based on new guidelines and they couldn't see there was any change in his condition.'

A protest is due to take place on Christmas Eve at 11am outside the hospital where patients' families, friends and staff are expected to voice their opposition to the proposals.

Mrs Bell is also organising a petition against the plans.

She said: 'It just came out of the blue and we are shocked and worried – it is a really difficult time for the people there.'

There are currently 13 long-stay patients at the hospital as well as the six patients in the beds which will close.

Howard Green, chief executive All Hallows Healthcare Trust, said in an open letter: 'After 47 years of working with the NHS in Norfolk this is devastating news. The patients, patients' relatives, staff and management at All Hallows are extremely concerned about the future of the hospital.

'At the time of writing this letter all three Norfolk hospitals were on black alert because of lack of beds but the NHS is still choosing to cut beds and the winter hasn't turned cold yet.

'This sudden blow could be serious enough to see All Hallows Hospital close after years of providing a highly-valued service.'

He called on people to join the fight to keep the beds and lobby their MPs.

He added: 'I do believe with your help that there is a realistic chance of getting this decision re-visited.'

A spokesman for the CCG said following the announcement: 'South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group intends to recommission its existing stock of intermediate care beds provided by independent organisations in the spring.

'Like all other independent providers, All Hallows will have an equal opportunity to tender to provide those beds.

'Patients care remains our priority.'

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