Trust to close ward that cares for aged

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A WHOLE ward at the Conquest Hospital is to be closed down with the loss of almost 30 beds.

Bosses at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital on The Ridge, together with Eastbourne’s DGH, said the move was to save money, as the organisation grapples with mounting debt, currently around £6 million.

The trust said there was less need for the beds in Murray ward, which looks after elderly patients, as more were being cared for outside, rather than being stuck unnecessarily at the Conquest.

But Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands off the Conquest, was less than impressed.

She said: “People being stuck in hospital has always been a problem at the Conquest, so has it suddenly gone away? I wouldn’t have thought so.

“East Sussex has the highest number of those over 85 in the country.”

A trust spokesman said the number of patients stuck in hospital without appropriate community care packages had dropped “quite dramatically” compared to four or five years ago.

He said a date had yet to be set for the closure of Murray ward but it would be soon after a consultation with staff, which ends on May 3.

The spokesman said: “A 30-day consultation has commenced with the 29 staff on the ward.

“With reducing length of stay in hospital and fewer delayed transfers of care across the trust less hospital beds are required to undertake the same level of activity.

“At the same time there is a great amount of ongoing work across the county to ensure patients are cared for closer to their home in the community in more appropriate environments to meet their needs.

“As a result, not so many acute hospital beds are required.

“Therefore it is proposed to close Murray ward and transfer the staff to other wards.

“No staff will lose their jobs as a result of this ward closure.

“In terms of savings, there will be a reduction in the need for agency, bank and premium time pay costs on Murray ward and the other wards where staff are redeployed to.”