June 27, 2014
Mixed reactions to NHS plans to reduce beds at Burnham Hospital

The Chairman of the Friends of Burnham Hospital has expressed mixed opnions on plans by the NHS to temporarily cut eight beds at Burnham-On-Sea's War Memorial Hospital.

As first reported here earlier this week, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust says the cutbacks are part of a raft of changes across the county.

Tony Deahl, Chairman of the Friends of Burnham Hospital, told "Although, initially, I had concerns about the cut in the number of beds at Burnham Hospital I am convinced that both patients and staff will benefit from this decision."

"Nurses, who have been under severe pressure, because of staff shortages and continuing difficulty in recruiting trained staff, will now be able to give more time to their patients and be better able to do the job that they entered the profession to do."

"We are very proud of our hospital in Burnham and patients have always expressed their appreciation for the dedication of the hard working staff who have operated under great stress in recent years."

"However, I do have two concerns. Firstly, this cut has been done as a 'temporary measure' and these 'temporary measures' have a habit of becoming permanent. Secondly, patients not being cared for in Burnham Hospital, will be looked after in the community or in residential homes. This is fine if there are sufficient community services and places in residential care. I remain to be convinced that there are."

"The Head of the NHS has recently said how important community hospitals are in delivering local care and we, in Somerset, unlike in some other counties near to us, still have excellent community hospitals and these are very valuable assets."

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation spokeswoman Victoria Eld said: "While we recruit extra staff at Burnham-On-Sea War Memorial Community Hospital, we will temporarily close up to eight beds. We will constantly monitoring the impact for patients."

"These are temporary bed reductions and no decisions on long term closures will be made ahead of the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s Community Services Review."

"Additionally, no stroke rehabilitation beds are included in bed reductions - we will be working closely with the CCG on their review of stroke services."

She added: "There will also be no job losses, and no staff moved from their current base wherever possible."

"We will engage fully with staff and stakeholders on the local impact of these temporary closures and make sure that any changes are introduced in a phased way to ensure we maintain appropriate access and patient safety."

She went on to explain the reason that the beds are being cut at the hospital: "We are investing £1.3 million into community health and mental health services to implement the Government’s new Staffer Staffing recommendations." Read the full NHS statement here.

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