A public meeting is to be held to explain the circumstances after the shock annoucnement that the 17 bed inpatient ward at Midhurst Community Hospital is to close temporarily.
Fears have been voiced that the closure could spell the end of the inpatient ward at the much loved hospital.
But health officials say the temporary ‘winding down’ has been forced on them due to staff shortages which have brought with them a risk to patient safety.
Vice chairman of the Friends of Midhurst Community Hospital Dr Dennis Brennan told the Observer: “I have spoken to Dr Richard Quirk, medical director at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and he has voiced grave disquiet at this development indicating they are urgently seeking the solution.
“In the mean time it has been agreed there will be an open meeting involving the foundation trust and the Friends of Midhurst Community Hosptial so that the community have an opportunity to better understand the problems associated with this unpallatable decision.”
The date and venue will be announced on the Observer webiste in the next week.
In a statement on Friday, the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust statement said: “The trust has been forced to take decisive action after a recent deterioration in staffing levels meant it could no longer guarantee patient safety.”
“This follows long-term challenges securing either permanent or agency nursing staff available to work in the Midhurst area.”
The temporary closure would allow the trust to ‘explore solutions with the local community with the aim of addressing the issue as soon as possible’, it said.
Other services at Midhurst Community Hospital are not affected.
The 11 patients currently on the ward are being moved to additional beds the trust is opening up at other sites.
Reporting to Midhurst town council last night (Monday, April 18), county councillor Gordon McAra said plans to provide nursing accommodation in the disused Rothefield building beside the hospital had been on the cards for several years.
“There is money available and it needs the attention of the friends and the trust to get it up and running rapidly.
“All the staff will soon be dispersed and the trust may say ‘we have managed with it for nine months, we won’t reopen it’. It is essential to take rapid action to acquire the building and get it in a reasonable condition and get nursing staff.”
“To my mind it is entirely wrong that elderly patients,in the last stages of their lives, should have to move away from their family and friends.”
Town councillors will decide what action to take at their Community Care meeting next Monday (April 25)
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