Ward closures will improve care claim

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HOSPITAL bosses in Sheffield have defended their decision to close wards for elderly people saying it will lead to a better standard of care.

Trade unionists, nurses and patient groups say they fear the closure of Ward Q1 at the Royal Hallamshire will lead to a deterioration in the standard of care offered.

They believe the closure - scheduled for this weekend - will be followed by others as the Trust tries to shave £40m from it’s outgoings.

But Health Trust bosses insist the need to save cash is not the main reason for the proposed closures.

David Throssell, Deputy Medical Director, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation said: “The way health care is delivered is changing in Sheffield to ensure the right patients are treated in the right place at the right time and in the most efficient way.

“The proposed changes to two of our wards are part of this change. Firstly we are centralising elderly care at the Northern General Hospital because that is where the majority of older patients are admitted and therefore older patients won’t have to be transferred across the city.”

He said the Trust had been working with NHS Sheffield and social services to reduce the number of patients who are in hospital beds unnecessarily, or have their discharge significantly delayed because there is not a nursing home place available or the community health service support to enable them to go home.

He added: “Nationally it is recognised best practice to ensure elderly care patients do no spend any longer in hospital than absolutely necessary.

“At any one time we have over 150 patients in hospital who don’t need to be here.

“In recent months more than £3m has been invested to provide additional nursing home bed, community intermediate care packages and short term invention packages to help reduce the number of patients in hospital beds unnecessarily. It is also expected that a further 20 additional intermediate care beds will also be provided.”

Dr Richard Oliver, a lead GP from commissioners NHS Sheffield added: “When we consulted with the public last year as part of the Big Health Conversation, overwhelmingly people told us that they wanted to receive their care closer to their homes and our investment in community services is helping to make this a very real option.”

Elderly patients at the Hallamshire have gradually been moved to the Northern General, with just four remaining at the Q1 today, before it is closed down this weekend.

One staff member said: “It is so sad what they are doing. These people don’t want to be shunted around like this. Some are being moved into nursing homes because there isn’t space at the Northern.”