Hospice’s offer to save under threat Halesworth hospital

The Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth.

The Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth. - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

A hospice has offered to work with healthcare providers to try and save one of the community hospitals under threat of closure by using it for new end-of-life services if it is shut.

The Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth and Southwold Hospital - along with beds at Northgate and All Hallows hospitals - have both been earmarked for closure by Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) HealthEast, which is responsible for buying health services in the area. It has proposed providing more NHS-funded “beds with care” in local nursing homes instead.

Ahead of the consultation earlier this year, St Elizabeth Hospice – which provides community and day services across east Suffolk – approached the CCG to see if one of the hospitals could be kept open by providing palliative care beds there.

St Elizabeth Hospice chief executive Mark Millar said: “We believe that with the same public support we receive in the Ipswich area, we can offer people an alternative to hospice care, help the hard-pressed NHS budget and save at least one of these two hospitals.”

St Elizabeth Hospice said it had gone public with its suggestion after HealthEast did not mention the proposal in its recent report about its public consultation over the future of healthcare services in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

Mr Millar said: “We took the view at that point that if it’s not in that document, when the CCG come back and respond, they’re unlikely to raise it. We have therefore put it in the public domain to stimulate discussion.”

Mr Millar said in reality the hospice would have to choose between setting up a base at the Patrick Stead or Southwold Hospital.

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Even then the hospice would have to consider the costs of running a service, whether the buildings are suitable, how much support the CCG would give and how much money it could raise before making a final decision.

Halesworth Town Council expressed its concerns that the offer had not been brought to public attention.

Chairman Anne Fleming said during a council meeting this week: “I personally feel as a council we should write to the appropriate authorities and say we need to be kept informed about this. It’s outrageous.

“I would like to really push the case for Halesworth.”

Rebecca Driver, director of engagement at HealthEast, said: “As we had held a very positive meeting with St Elizabeth Hopsice’s chief executive, we were already fully aware of their aspirations for the future of local services and partnership working.

“We will consider all helpful and innovative suggestions, such as those outlined by the hospice, once a final decision has been made on the proposals on November 5.”