Health chiefs are urged to think again over loss of hospital beds

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A CAMPAIGN to save beds at an East Riding hospital has been revived at the 11th hour.

In-patient beds at Alfred Bean Hospital in Driffield are set to be axed next Spring, when a new £19m community hospital opens in Beverley.

But the hospital’s League of Friends and East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight are writing to managers to ask them to reconsider what the MP described as a “universally unpopular” decision.

The 12-bed ward provides rehabilitation, following hip and knee operations and step down care for patients who have had a stroke.

It also has two palliative care beds, allowing patients to be cared for close to home in the care of their own GP during their last days.

Mr Knight said: “The local health trust ought to listen to the local residents.

“I have written to the trust to see if in the first instance they are prepared to think again. I hope they are prepared to think again because they are supposed to reflect local needs and views.

“This decision is universally unpopular and totally uncalled for. We would hope that all the local doctors who support the facility will make their views known – they need to come forward.”

Chairman of the hospital’s League of Friends Judy Douglas said GPs were keen for the beds to be saved: “The plans is that the beds go but we are still trying to save them.

“If the ward closes people might get a bed at Beverley but they might have to go to Goole, Hull or Scarborough, which is very difficult for families and patients who want to be nursed in their own town.

“If you are ill and your partner is over 80 it is not easy, families aren’t round the corner now and we have an elderly population.

“The GPs are on board. I think GP commissioning plans have bought GP surgeries to life - they are going to have more power where to choose to spend their money.”

Mrs Douglas is urging residents to write to NHS East Riding as well as Humber NHS Foundation Trust. She said morale among staff on the ward was at “rock bottom”. She said: “I feel there is a chance of saving the beds; I feel suddenly there’s an awareness by health providers that maybe it would be wrong to close the beds.”

The decision to axe beds at the hospital and Hornsea Cottage Hospital was made four years ago, despite the pleas of thousands of residents.

The PCT has since invested heavily in setting up neighbourhood community teams. As well as the new hospital in Beverley, it has put £1.3m into refurbishing the day hospital at the Alfred Bean Hospital, reconstructing the day hospital and adding two new treatment rooms to expand the range of day treatments.

Other work included an overhaul of the entrance and main reception, a new dedicated ultrasound facility with changing room and a brand new floor for the physiotherapy gym.

NHS East Riding said in 2007 there would be a need for 95 beds in 2012 – but currently only commissions 60 in five 12-bedded units at Bridlington (the Wolds unit), Beverley, Withernsea, Goole and Hornsea.

A spokeswoman said they continuously reviewed their community services strategy.

A statement said: “The environment in which community services is operating within is changing, particularly in relation to how services can be delivered closer to home.

“It is right that we continue to review our strategic plans for community services in the East Riding to ensure they meet the needs of our population and are in line with the developments in GP commissioning.”

She said current plans were to transfer the inpatient beds at Driffield and Hornsea to the new hospital, when it opens in the Spring.

The 30-bed community hospital is being built by NHS East Riding on a 10-acre site in Swinemoor Lane.