Staff fear over ward cuts

IPSWICH Hospital staff were today fearing for their patients' aftercare following the announcement that another ward is due to close.Staff on the Orford ward were called to a meeting and told that all 28 beds will be closed.

IPSWICH Hospital staff were today fearing for their patients' aftercare following the announcement that another ward is due to close.

Staff on the Orford ward were called to a meeting and told that all 28 beds will be closed. The ward is used to accommodate elderly patients in the final stages of their rehabilitation before they are discharged.

In September 2006 hospital bosses approved plans to axe 71 beds, 357 jobs and four operating theatres to help the balance the hospital's debt, which amounts to £16.7million. Many of the beds to close are based in the northern end of the hospital, which is the oldest part of the building. Some 39 beds have been closed already.

A staff member, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Evening Star: “The closure of this ward means those patients will have nowhere to go. It all comes down to money as they cannot be seen to keep people in beds.

“Families will be advised to take the patients home and that is not fair because they would not receive the specialist care they need. It will lead to people being released that are not ready.

“Everyone on the ward is irate about it. As far as I know, none of the patients' families have been told about this. It is ridiculous.”

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Unions have been called in to discuss the issue and there will be a two week formal consultation to give those affected a chance to submit their views. However the hospital has confirmed there will not be any redundancies on the ward.

A spokesman for Ipswich Hospital said: “It will mean we will be able to provide better patient care and not spend money on using an area of the hospital, which is the oldest part.

“People will still receive care but just not necessarily in a hospital bed. They will receive help to go home or into a care centre or a nursing home.

“These people do not need to be in an acute hospital bed. We work very closely with other agencies because every person is individual. The last thing we want to do is abandon these people. No patients will be disadvantaged because of this.”

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