Dismay as NHS closes cottage hospital ward

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HORNSEA Cottage Hospital is to close the doors of its inpatient ward permanently, much to the dismay of people in the area.

The decision was made following a meeting between Humber NHS Foundation Trust, NHS commissioners and local GPs on to discuss the current staffing difficulties at the hospital.

Angie Mason, director of nursing and service delivery, said: “We have taken the difficult decision to close Hornsea inpatient ward at this time because we are unable to staff the unit safely due to an unprecedented increase in staff sickness.

“Although potentially we could use agency nurses, it is very difficult to get staff with the right skill set, who know the unit, in such an isolated area and patient safety must be our top priority.

“We feel that re-staffing the ward safely is unlikely to be achievable before the opening of the new East Riding Community Hospital in Beverley in late May or early June. The ward was scheduled to close in the coming months to coincide with the opening of the new hospital.”

June Barton, of the Hornsea Cottage Hospital League of Friends organisation, told the Yorkshire Post that the move would leave people in the area “bitterly disappointed”.

“We always realised and expected that there would be a gradual reduction in staff levels but we did not expect it to be so sudden. I think people in Hornsea have, frankly, been pretty shoddily treated.”

Ms Barton took particular exception to the hospital bosses’ use of the word “isolated”, saying that a previous battle to keep the minor injuries ward at the hospital open in 2005 had seen NHS chiefs deny that the facility was isolated.

“Now they are using that very word,” she said.

Ms Mason said that five extra beds will be opened in the other community hospitals in the East Riding of Yorkshire, specifically in Withernsea, Beverley and Driffield.

“We are also planning to start early discussions with East Riding of Yorkshire Council to look at commissioning beds in the independent sector, should they be required,” she added.

Staff currently in post at Hornsea will be moved to work in the local Neighbourhood Care Team, caring for people with long-term conditions in their own homes.