Harness Block

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The attached is an open letter to Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of Western Sussex NHS Hospitals Trust.

It is three years since the Service Redesign for Quality consultation was carried out, and when Western Sussex NHS Hospitals Trust was not a foundation hospital, and there was no such thing as the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.

The report identified that the majority of respondents across the county had been in the Adur and Shoreham area, and that the future of Southlands Hospital was very much a concern of people resident in the Adur and Shoreham area.

On February 1, 2012, you were invited to a public meeting at Shoreham Community Centre, along with the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, where you experienced first-hand the strength of feeling among local people about the need to keep Southlands as a community asset, compelling the MP to call upon you to listen to what the local people were saying.

And yet in June, 2013, the board announced that it was proposing to demolish the Harness Block, the central core of the hospital, while continuing to decant services from Southlands; other proposals from the Service Redesign for Quality consultation have been set aside or ignored as the hospital is systematically run down by the trust for purposes that can only be guessed at, but which are aimed at eliminating its ability to function as a hospital.

The consultation had a section concerning inpatient beds which referred to making better use of existing beds, with a pledge to ‘retain the ability to increase the number of beds in its hospitals to deal with additional demand at peak times for example, in the winter months’. And yet at the board meeting in June, 2014, there was concern expressed about the increases in referrals and admissions.

You yourself were quoted in the Shoreham Herald on June 12 as saying: “I think that the level of risk has never been so high in five years. The whole system’s delivery mechanisms are not delivering. It feels as though things are out of control and our current delivery systems are not managing it.”

In the same report the deputy chief executive, Jane Farrell, was also quoted as saying: “Our staff are working wonders to give their patients good, timely care. However, health services across the region have been under significant pressure for some time and this has intensified in May. Our emergency teams are continuing to see large numbers of patients who are either very elderly, very frail, or both.”

Perhaps if you were not intent on winding up Southlands Hospital as a functioning hospital, and eliminating that part of the hospital where more beds could be made available, then perhaps you would not be in this situation, whether in the winter months or on the threshold of summer.

Sussex Defend the NHS therefore calls upon you to withdraw your proposal to demolish the Harness Block. Furthermore, we demand that you organise another review of the services that you offer and this time take steps to make sure that the consultation is more genuine and meaningful than the Service Redesign for Quality ever was.

S.J. Guy

Sussex Defend the NHS

Southview Road

Southwick

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