I read the statement in the Herald on February 5 by Ms Griffiths re her reasons for losing between 60 and 82 acute trust beds and turning them into houses with interest.
The consultation document of 2011 made it clear that 60 beds were to be lost on the closure of the Harness Block. No impact assessment was done of the effect of losing beds.
An assumption was made that some of the loss could be made up by efficiency savings and that people would need less time in hospital. This assumption has been proved erroneous.
Reading the acute trust’s recent board papers, there is mention of the problem of readmissions and the possible factors recorded there include being discharged too early. Also recorded is that frail elderly people are requiring longer stays and generating an increased demand for beds above planned levels.
I did a small anonymous sampling of people’s experiences on hospital discharge since the closure of Southlands and got 15 replies. The results shocked me. Of the eight acute elderly admissions who responded, four (50 per cent) on their initial discharge were readmitted on the same day.
The beds lost were lost under assumptions, not on facts. They need replacing.
I, and many of my friends, in our 70s, are scared by seeing what is happening to our less-well elderly friends and relatives. We want to know that if we get ill we will be allowed to get well before we are sent home. That is why we have opposed the sale of the Harness Block. If the sale had included a proper replacement of lost beds, my reaction would have been different.
In some areas, the hospital is performing well and that was reflected in my sampling, as none of the surgical cases were readmitted and some were very satisfied.
The contention that a ‘state-of-the-art ophthalmology unit’ is a good replacement puzzles me. As I understand it, the in-patient and children’s ophthalmology is down at Chichester.
Ambulatory ophthalmology carries risks and elderly people under stress can have heart attacks, etc. For these risks to be taken so far from any in-patient beds seems to be taking the scene back to the days of in-patient orthopaedics in the Harness Block.
I fear the new unit would quickly be declared too risky. The placing of services in the R&R Block needs basing on robust research as to what is needed and public opinion needs considering. Complaints also show need and should be regarded as a useful tool and not a threat.
retired Adur GP
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