LETTER: Look forward

Your letters
Your letters

My letter (Herald, July 2) was not written to be misleading, or to ignore the past, but simply to suggest looking forward, beyond the derelict buildings, to a new future for the Southlands site and pointing out that we are fortunate to be so close to other excellent facilities – the Royal Sussex County Hospital being a regional trauma centre as well as specialising in cardiac and vascular matters – which like others all around the country are stretched.

I joined the local ambulance station in 1978, and became only too aware of what an excellent facility was to open nearby in 1979, using the new American concept of a ‘harness’ style of building – indeed the floors were numbered one to four for some years, but proved too confusing for some.

Upon opening of the new ward block, many of the old buildings were phased out, and the land sold eventually for housing/used for car parking.

Then existing hospital-owned housing at the Worthing site was razed to the ground, and the new east wing was created, which would enable maternity – located in one of the old buildings – and eventually other services to be moved from Southlands.

The decline of the smart and vibrant new block in Shoreham was therefore sadly inevitable, especially when neurological/stroke patients from the Brighton & Hove area were relocated to the Princess Royal, with the remainder going to the new Burlington Ward at Worthing, and the move of orthopaedics because the theatres were deemed to not be suitable, leaving just the rehabilitation wards.

When ‘Fit for the Future’ came along, there was an amazing local campaign aiming to save services at both Worthing/Southlands and St Richard’s, and it cannot have been coincidence that Western Sussex Hospitals was then formed – enabling rationalisation of services, such as orthopaedics being concentrated at St Richard’s.

As an ambulance service, we are now transporting more patients between Worthing and Chichester than before the merger of the hospitals, but mercifully for the mainly elderly and sometimes quite poorly patients who started their in-patient stays at Becket Ward, the inevitable transfer over to Shoreham for rehab along the seven mile corridor – sometimes late in the evening in the middle of winter – came to an end when Barrow and Beacon Wards opened in Worthing, with the closure of the last remaining wards at Southlands, the lovely staff being transferred to the slightly alien Worthing Hospital environment.

Ironically, my wife has a pre-op assessment soon – guess where? Yes, the Chichester Treatment Centre!

Such is the nature of change.

Phil Hamerton

Cissbury Way

Shoreham

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