HEALTH bosses in North Staffordshire have issued a joint statement in response to talk that Leek Hospital will close in September.
Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer for North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “I would like to offer my assurance that no decision has been taken by the CCGs on the future of the community hospitals and we would not do so without first having carried out full public consultation. This is set to begin in May following the local elections and as soon as NHS England give us the go-ahead.
“In the meantime, as part of the implementation of ‘My Care, My Way – Home First’, we will continue to introduce processes to discharge patients home from hospital with the appropriate support when they are medically fit rather than into a community rehabilitation bed, unless they really need one.
“As we discussed at our engagement events last year, this will mean that there will be fewer beds required for rehabilitation services in community hospitals and we will continue to work with Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP) that runs the Haywood and Leek hospitals to manage capacity to meet demand. We do not wish to cause any undue concern to patients or staff.
“However, in recognition that we now have fewer people requiring beds following discharge and as a consequence empty beds, we have issued notice on the wards to give us the flexibility to do what we may need to do over the next few months and after the public consultation to manage capacity.
“I would like to reassure people that this is part of the NHS standard contractual process. If we wish to change and improve services we are obliged under our contract rules to give notice on the contract for the existing services.
“Serving notice does not mean that we will be stopping services, instead it gives us the flexibility to ensure that services are meeting patients’ needs. The cost of providing all services at Leek Hospital is in the contract with SSOTP for 2017/18.”
Kieron Murphy, Director of Operations for SSOTP said, “As the provider of the services at Leek Hospital, we have started to talk to staff about what the consultation may mean for them.
“This does not mean that closure is inevitable, nor does it mean that staff will be made redundant. We would like to reassure people that we are working closely with commissioners to make sure that no patient safety is compromised.”
A petition to try and safeguard the future of the hospital has attracted 33,000 signtures.