Protests amid decision to close Southwold hospital
- Credit: James Bass
'Where will people go?' – that was the question being asked by residents as it was confirmed Southwold Hospital will close, despite public support for keeping it open.
HealthEast – the Clinical Commissioning Group for Great Yarmouth and Waveney, which is responsible for health services in the area – made the decision at its board meeting yesterday after a public consultation.
About 40 members of the public gathered at the meeting at Beccles House to hear how the 15 in-patient beds at the hopsital will be replaced with beds in nearby care homes, with the Lowestoft Against the Cuts campaign group staging a protest outside against the decision.
Andy Evans, HealthEast chief executive, stressed that none of the closures will be implemented until the CCG has developed the new services.
However the hospital in Southwold, which had provided 15 in-patient beds, has been temporarily closed since August after its operator, East Coast Community Healthcare, was unable to provide safe staffing levels.
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Mr Evans stressed that this was an issue with the health provider around staffing and that patients were being given alternative provision at other locations.
John Perkins, chairman of the Southwold and Reydon society, said: 'If Southwold Hospital is closed where will people go? HealthEast said they will buy beds-with-care in existing local care homes. We have no details where these beds will be and anyone who has tried to find a bed for their elderly relative locally knows there is no spare capacity.
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'The other question is where will the beds in the care homes be based if there is no capacity in the care homes currently? If they are to close then what does that mean for those who are currently waiting for a bed?'
Mr Evans said: 'We have to look at providing care in a different way. Out of hospital teams are the right way to go on.
'The right thing at this stage is to look 10 to 15 years into the future and, on the basis of all of the individual proposals, community-based care rather than the bed based model is a better use of the resources that we have.'
Halesworth's Patrick Stead Hospital is also due to close and be replaced with out-of-hospital services and beds in care homes.
There will also be bed losses at Northgate in Great Yarmouth and All Hallows Hospital in Bungay.
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