Suspension of new inpatients comes into force at Halesworth hospital

Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth.PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

New inpatient admissions at the Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth are to be suspended from tomorrow due to staffing shortages.

East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) announced the temporary suspension earlier this month, saying staffing had reached a “critical level” and could affect patient safety.

Adele Madin, ECCH’s director of adult services, said they had experienced significant problems recruiting and retaining staff since the hospital was earmarked for closure following last year’s public consultation by Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group.

However Tony Goldson, county councillor for Halesworth, said more should have been done to recruit staff or hire agency staff in the interim to keep the hospital open.

He said: “Residents of Halesworth who need intermediate care beds will have to be taken to the James Paget Hospital (in Gorleston), as well as people from Lowestoft and the surrounding area, and that will put more pressure on them.

“Halesworth has got a high elderly population and they are being deprived of care locally. And their relatives can’t get there to visit them in the evenings.

“If they can’t recruit and retain staff, then there is a major problem.”

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The decision has also angered Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who said she felt let down after the pledges made by health bosses last year to keep the hospital open until health facilities and care homes with nursing beds would be ready.

And The Rayner Green Resource Centre and Patrick Stead Hospital Support Group has been set up by representatives from the town council, Halesworth Health, the hospital’s league of friends, Halesworth dementia Carers’ Fund, The Patient Participation Group and Halesworth Day Centre to urge health bosses not to close Patrick Stead Hospital permanently.

Ms Madin said: “The safety of our patients and staff is our number one priority and running a stand-alone unit like this requires experienced and well-qualified nurses.

“We have tried to book agency staff, offered incentives to all appropriately trained nursing staff working for our other services, contacted the James Paget University Hospital and asked other healthcare partners for assistance.

“We will be reviewing the situation with our commissioners on a monthly basis and continue to advertise posts at Patrick Stead. In the meantime, ECCH will continue to run all outpatient services from the physiotherapy block at the hospital.”