Musical hospital beds

A HIGH profile new multi-million pound healthcare centre has today been revealed to be a case of musical beds.The new centre, at Ravenswood in Ipswich, was originally designed to free up beds at Ipswich Hospital but now it looks set to be used as a replacement for one of the town's nursing homes instead.

A HIGH profile new multi-million pound healthcare centre has today been revealed to be a case of musical beds.

The new centre, at Ravenswood in Ipswich, was originally designed to free up beds at Ipswich Hospital but now it looks set to be used as a replacement for one of the town's nursing homes instead.

The news that St Edmunds Nursing Home, on Constitution Hill, Ipswich could be closed and moved over to the new centre has angered patient groups who say they have been kept in the dark.

And news of the planned closure was only made public as part of a media release about the fact that the new centre is due to open soon and has been named Bluebird Lodge, after the first planes that flew from the former airport site.

There is also concern that the number of beds at the Ravenswood centre has been cut from 32 to 28 - with 15 of those almost certainly to be taken by former St Edmunds Nursing Home residents.

The centre will be owned and run by the East Suffolk PCTs (Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal and Central Suffolk), and their decision to relocate St Edmunds has left people puzzled.

Most Read

A spokesman for the Ipswich PCT patient and public involvement (PPI) forum said: "Closing St Edmunds has never been mentioned at any of the board meetings. I want to know when this decision was taken. Why were we not told before now?"

And despite the fact that the PCTs have just been awarded an extra £68m by the government to tackle their £30m debt, the spokesman added: "Because of their debt, I think they are looking at cost cuts too much and this is it what smells of to me."

Initially, it had been designed as a 'step-up, step-down' intermediate care facility - for people who no longer needed to be in hospital but were too ill to go straight home, or for people who were not ill enough to be admitted in the first place but still needed care.

However, health bosses now say this is only one part of what the £4.2m centre will be used for.

Many of the wards at Ipswich Hospital contain so-called bed-blockers - patients who have been in hospital for many months and no longer need the kind of care a hospital provides, but have nowhere else suitable to go. Currently there are around 20 people in this position at the hospital.

The PPI spokesman said he fears using Bluebird Lodge as a substitute for St Edmunds will not help the problem and see the PCT come "full-circle".

Janice Steed, director of service delivery for the Suffolk East PCTs, said: "People haven't really been kept in the dark as such, it's just the way the time-scales have worked out.

"Because Bluebird Lodge is going to be available to us in April, we did not want to delay things until such times as we would take it to the board at the end of the month.

"We are doing exactly what was always planned in terms of the facility. It is important we look at all of the services in the round and don't just concentrate on the beds.

"Care has moved on a long way since the centre was originally planned and what we are planning is not detrimental in anyway, it is a great opportunity to improve the services for people in Ipswich.

"The level of care and support at St Edmunds is first class but the age of the building means some people cannot use the services they need as the layout of the building makes it impossible for some people to use.

"We want to be able to accommodate those people who cannot access the service at St. Edmunds and provide a high quality environment to complement the high quality of care and treatment provided by staff."

The centre will contain 28 beds, 20 of which will be en-suite, and a large gym. Daily support will be provided by occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nursing staff and other therapists.

There will be no compulsory loss of jobs - all staff affected will have an interview with senior colleagues to talk through any issues.

The centre is due to be handed over to the East Suffolk PCTs later this month and if the proposals are widely accepted the relocation is likely to take place in April 2005.

The plans are due to be discussed at the next public board meeting of the Ipswich Primary Care Trust on Wednesday March 9.

To voice your opinions write to: Janice Steed, Director of Service Delivery, Viewpoints - St. Edmunds, Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts, Trust Headquarters, 2nd Floor St Clements, Foxhall Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP3 8LS or email viewpoints@ipswich-pct.nhs.uk

Opinion - page 6

n What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter