Hospital closure fears follow cuts

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a DECISION to cut one third of the beds at Heanor Memorial Hospital has sparked fears for its future.

Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (DCHS) says patients at the 24-bed centre are spending less time there due to better care and the extra space created will be used for new bathroom facilities and improved care.

But Dr Jim Noble - the longest serving GP in Heanor and chair of the staff committee - says the decision is based on a flawed study and the cuts will seriously undermine the hospital’s financial viability.

He said: “It’s not true to say that the beds aren’t needed.

“Over the winter months, there’s a constant bed requirement from the major units. To say that there’s a lot of beds spare is an interpretation of statistics and not facts.

“The major units will struggle if we can’t take people after initial work has been done and patients will be spread hither and thither to recuperate.

“Once you start taking the beds down to 16 you put the unit in a situation where it could very quickly become not viable. The staff are petrified.”

Heanor resident Claire Winfield said: “The closure of eight of the current 24 beds will be the slippery slope to the demise of the hospital.

“It is great news that, with improved care, patients’ stays in hospital are minimised but national and local demographics show that we have an increasing aging population.

“As people live longer we are likely to need more and not less bed provision.”

But William Jones, director of service delivery for DCHS claimed that the improvements being made to the hospital would help the chances “of an even better recovery for people who have had a fall, a stroke or any of the other conditions we see in our hospitals.”

“This has meant that across Derbyshire on a daily basis we have spare capacity within our current bed numbers.”