Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, makes a number of statements in her special comment piece (February 5), in relation to the future of Southlands Hospital, that need to be challenged.
She claims clinicians raised concerns about patient safety and a review, Service Redesign for Quality, was initiated in order to secure the future of Southlands.
Yet in the document of that name, issued in 2011, there is not a mention of these concerns.
Also not mentioned was that Cedar Ward received numerous accolades for the compassion and commitment patients received from the staff caring for them.
Ms Griffiths identifies February, 2011, as the conclusion of the joint consultation but, in fact, the review ran from February 7 to April 29, and the conclusions were published later in the year.
During that time, she attended several consultation sessions and was certainly present at the Southwick one, where she did indeed listen to the concerns of those attending. She listened but did not intend to do any more, and that is very clear from a careful reading of the document.
On page 20, there is a section where the fate of the site is already mapped out.
Some people might be tempted to say that is now ancient history, the decision has been made and we should be prepared to make the best of it. And that the trust is investing in a new state-of-the-art ophthalmology unit, which will be an asset to the patients, the trust and the wider community, and that is their prerogative.
But the review also referred to the service provided to the elderly and how community bed provision was going to be improved.
The document states: “The trust will retain the ability to increase the number of beds in its hospitals to deal with additional demands at peak times, for example in the winter months.” This at the same time as they proposed transferring most of the beds from Southlands to Worthing which, they stated, would improve the care for elderly patients as they would have access to the full range of services available there.
Yet, in June last year, Marianne Griffiths was quoted in the Shoreham Herald: “I think that the level of risk has never been so high in five years. The whole system’s delivery mechanisms are not delivering.”
Six months on, in the January 8 edition, medical director George Findlay, referring to the latest Black Alert at both Worthing and St Richards, said: “The other reason was a significant backlog of patients at both hospitals…who were medically fit for discharge last week but not fit to go home, but needed community care, which wasn’t in place.”
In conclusion, we in the Save Southlands campaign have always questioned the trust’s optimistic projections about its ability to cope with the increase in the number of patients, and the decision to eliminate community beds on the basis it is an acute trust.
The promised community care, so dear to the CCG’s Kate Armstrong, is a complete chimera, as was highlighted so eloquently by Jacky Woolcock (Herald letters, February 19).
What is needed is a system which provides a seamless service from the minute patients enter the system until they are fit to be released from the care of the NHS, and provision of community beds is an integral part of that process.
The chief executive trenchantly restating that it is an acute trust and not in a position to provide proper recuperative facilities is an absolute outrage, and while she adheres to this position, she must take responsibility for the needless suffering inflicted on these poor unfortunates.
The Save Southlands campaign will continue to press for community beds provision, and the prime location for such beds is Southlands Hospital.
on behalf of Save Southlands
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