Local GPs are fearing for the future of Ludlow hospital after health chiefs decided to shut Stretton Ward at seven days’ notice. This will reduce patient’s privacy, block plans to create a dementia friendly bay, and end proposals to provide blood transfusions and intravenous antibiotics in Ludlow. The GPs are also worried that the move will lead to a shortage of hospital beds next winter. They say the move is the beginning of the end for Ludlow hospital.
I think this is truly shocking news. Councillor Tracy Huffer agrees and says:
I can’t understand this decision. They have already closed Whitcliffe Ward. With the closure of Stretton, we are going to lose a lot of services and add to the inevitable bed crisis next winter.
There is a meeting of Shropshire’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee today [Monday]. I will be asking the Clinical Commissioning Group to explain just what on earth is going on and why this decision was made at short notice and without consultation.
In a media release on Saturday, Drs Beanland, Farnell and Yarham, all GPs at Portcullis practice, say they were not involved in the decision to close Stretton Ward and were “merely informed with only a week’s notice.”
The doctors say the move to close Stretton Ward is the beginning of the end for Ludlow Hospital:
With this change we are coming to the conclusion that there is no intention from either the CCG or the Trust that Ludlow will be one of the Urgent Care Centres recommended by the Future Fit program and that instead this the beginning of the end for Ludlow Hospital.
I could not agree with the GPs more when they complain that the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has “shown no interest in investing in healthcare facilities for rural and isolated communities in South Shropshire.” Anyone who has attended a Future Fit workshop cannot help but have come away with the impression that rural services are an afterthought bolted on to plans to centralise services in Shrewsbury and Telford – and ultimately mostly at the Princess Royal in Telford.
The Portcullis GPs list the disadvantages of closing Stretton Ward:
- Ludlow Hospital has recently had a significant refurbishment and the previously mixed sex wards were separated in order to improve privacy we believe that this change will have a significant impact on the patient’s right to privacy in a single sex ward.
- An identified priority was the creation of a dementia friendly bay in order to ensure dementia patients were treated with dignity and in a suitable environment which now no longer will be possible.
- Another important project Ludlow GPs were keen to offer was to provide day case ambulatory care such as blood transfusions and intravenous antibiotics for the benefit of the community as a whole, which would have been in keeping with the aims of Future Fit, with the closure of a ward this flexibility to provide additional services will be lost.
- Finally, we would also like to highlight that in the past two years during the winter there has been a need for additional beds to be staffed in order to support nearby acute hospitals with winter pressures and that the ward closure will result in a lack of additional beds in the winter which will result in additional pressure on local hospitals as well as loss of revenue for the community trust.
Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust says the plan to close Stretton Ward came from staff. It said on Friday:
By bringing our patients together we are making it easier for people to be cared for and visitors to get to and from the ward, and for our ward staff it means they are brought together in one inpatient clinical area. There are many clinical and logistical advantages of having these services brought together, such as staffing, clinical rounds and the delivery of equipment and patient meals.
The statement by the Community Health Trust read to me as a piece of spin doctoring.
Stretton Ward ensured essential privacy for patients and provided space for expansion of services geared to our increasingly elderly population. I can’t see that closing the ward is for the benefit of patients. I suspect this move is really about not having enough money to run Stretton Ward. If that is the case, the Community Health Trust should come clean and say so.
It is totally wrong that such a significant move should be made at a week’s notice in the summer holidays without pubic consultation. It is unbelievable that the decision was made without consultation with local GPs. We should be providing facilities to treat more people locally, not fewer.
There is no statement as yet from Shropshire CCG.
Hopes had been rising that Ludlow Hospital would be designated an Urgent Care Centre under Future Fit. Now it looks more likely that it will close altogether. That’s bad news for the residents of Ludlow and South Shropshire. Seriously bad news.