Evening News: Anger over decision to close ‘excellent’ 24-bed ward in Norwich

Nicholas Carding of the Norwich Evening News reports on the closure of yet another 24 beds for the elderly on the Julian Hospital site:

A 24-bed ward which helps a hospital discharge patients faster will close in three weeks – less than two years after opening.

So much for stopping bed blocking.

The Henderson Unit, at Julian Hospital, Bowthorpe Road, Norwich, will cease to operate from October 21 because health chiefs say the money to fund it has run out.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) said the decision to close the ward, which it runs with Norfolk County Council, was “disappointing”.

The overpaid bureaucrats squabble over their spreadsheets with tea and biscuits while important front line services for the most vulnerable are closed. The NHS Blame Game begins again.

Staff have reacted with anger as the closure of the ward means they will have to be redeployed, and some may have to apply for new positions.

It opened in November 2014 as part of a one-year initiative to meet the “winter pressures”, but continued to stay open due to its success.

Patients are admitted to the unit if they are medically fit to leave the hospital, but not yet healthy enough to start living independently at home again.

The unit has played a key part in helping the N&N in the battle to prevent delayed discharges, where patients are medically fit to leave the hospital but cannot do so because a package of care is not in place for them outside hospital.

Closing this unit doesn’t make any sense.

One staff member told this newspaper: “We were told there was funding available for the unit until March next year, and we were only told about the closure last week.

“We are all shocked by it.”

Making counterproductive and desperate cuts like this to balance the books in the middle of the financial year shows that the local NHS is not being run by competent people.

N&N chiefs approached North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group to ask for funding but the CCG, which leads on acute care on behalf of South Norfolk and Norwich CCG (all three known as the central Norfolk CCGs) said none of the three CCGs could provide any extra cash.

The CCGs must make savings totalling around £34m this year.

Yes, another £34 million of cuts.

Meanwhile, we continue to have bureaucracy overload with seven CCGs in Norfolk and Suffolk where ‘executives’ have been paying themselves and management consultants more and more as essential services are closed or cut.

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South whose constituency contains the unit, said: “This unit is providing a great service for patients and preventing unnecessary expenditure at the same time. Closing it makes absolutely no sense whichever way you look at it.

“Financially it’s a total false economy for our local NHS as a whole and our county’s adult social care system.

“At best, this proposal will heap yet more pressure on an Adult Social Care system already being cut to shreds by central government cuts to local councils.

Sue Vaughan, of Keep Our NHS Public, said: “This will not produce any savings because people who need those beds will either stay in the N&N or go home and become emergency patients again.”

Deep cuts to beds and community services have seen vulnerable and frail elderly people dying hundreds of miles away from home and family.

We’ve written before about the devastating effects of previous cuts on older people and their families.

Click on the image below to read the story in full on the Norwich Evening News website:


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