New health centre will mean less beds

A COMPLICATED series of transfers from nursing homes to a much heralded new health centre will result in less beds for the elderly in Ipswich than there are now, it emerged today.

A COMPLICATED series of transfers from nursing homes to a much heralded new health centre will result in less beds for the elderly in Ipswich than there are now, it emerged today.

And the news comes as a charity warns that moving elderly patients around could have serious effects on their health.

As revealed in the Evening Star on Friday, health bosses are planning to move patients from St Edmunds and Monmouth Court nursing homes to Bluebird Lodge at Ravenswood.

Monmouth Court currently has 15 NHS beds, as does St Edmunds, but Bluebird Lodge will only have 28 - leaving two less beds than before.

However, Janice Steed, director of service delivery for the Suffolk East primary care trusts, said the quality of services provided is more important than the actual number of beds.

She said: "Some patients currently have difficulty accessing St Edmunds because it is such an old building which means we don't make full use of the beds all the time.

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"The new facility at Ravenswood will give us much more flexibility. We will, in fact, be able to offer more respite care because we will be able to use the beds more fully.

"It will enable all of the Ipswich residents to receive an equal service in 21st century facilities.

"This would otherwise not be the case, due to the restrictions of the building, which also lacks the gym and other services which will be available in Bluebird Lodge."

But Andrea Lane, a spokeswoman for Help The Aged, said: "If people are in nursing homes they are going to be very poorly. They may be suffering from things like dementia and moving can be very confusing.

"We know that if you are forcing people to move at such a vulnerable point it can end their lives prematurely. The thoughts and opinions of these residents need to be taken into account.

"It is a shame if this is being done purely for budgetary reasons."

But Mrs Steed said the moves are part of an overall package which will improve the care patients receive.

As well as the purpose-built Bluebird Lodge the PCTs will also be working closely with social services to ensure there are more home carers in place to allow people to stay in their own homes.

Will you or your family be affected by the moves? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

STORY SO FAR

In the past the £4million centre at Ravenswood had been billed as the answer to bed blocking at Ipswich Hospital because many frail and elderly patients had nowhere to go and could not look after themselves.

Originally there were 32 beds planned for people aimed at keeping people out of hospital - for those who were blocking beds and for those who needed care but were not ill enough to be in an acute ward.

Elderly patients had also been moved from a Primary Care Trust run unit at Ipswich Hospital into privately run Monmouth Court as the space was needed at the Heath Road site.

Health chiefs had always said this was a temporary measure until Ravenswood was built.

Earlier this week Suffolk County Council announced they would be spending an extra £1.7m on services to allow frail, elderly people to live at home.