June 25, 2014
NHS defends decision to reduce beds at Burnham-On-Sea Hospital

The NHS has this week defended its decision to cut eight beds at Burnham-On-Sea's War Memorial Hospital.

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust told that the cutbacks are part of a raft of changes across the county.

Spokeswoman Victoria Eld told "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. These were developed by the government in response to the Francis Report into the tragic events at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust."

"As part of those recommendations, NHS Trusts are required to agree staffing levels on a ward by ward basis and publish compliance against those levels each month. To support this, Somerset Partnership has agreed new staffing levels for each of the community hospital and mental health wards. This is based on a ratio of one registered nurse to seven patients, during the day, and one registered nurse to every ten patients overnight, but is individually tailored to meet the specific care needs of patients on individual wards."

"There is clear evidence that directly links staffing levels on the wards to the quality of care provided, and improved outcomes for patients, when nurses and health care assistants have time and the skills to deliver the necessary level of care and support. The extra funding of £1.3 million will allow us to increase the number of registered nurses so that we have a consistent level of staffing available at peak times, generally around meal times and later in the evening."

"However, to make these changes, and to use our staff as efficiently as possible, a number of beds in community hospitals and mental health wards will be closed on a temporary basis. Not all of our wards have bed numbers that are a neat multiple of seven. So, for example, where a ward may have 16 beds it will be reduced to 14 beds so these can be staffed on the 1:7 ratio."

"We currently have a considerable challenge in recruiting nurses and currently have a significant number of vacancies, mirroring the national shortage of qualified nurses. While we have invested the further £1.3 million to recruit more nursing staff, these vacancies will require the Trust to temporarily close beds while we recruit. We know from our recent success in recruiting nurses to the new Bridgwater Community Hospital and specialist emergency nurse practitioners to our MIUs, that we can attract qualified staff. But it takes time, to so in the meantime we may need to temporarily close some additional community hospital beds and a small number on our mental health wards while we run our recruitment campaigns."

"These temporary closures will add to the existing agreement made with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, as part of the Trust’s contribution to the Government’s efficiency savings."

"Making these changes to ward configurations has been done in line with a number of key commitments from the Board of Somerset Partnership. Most importantly there are no proposals to fully close any community hospital. We remain absolutely convinced that community hospitals have an important role in the provision of community services in Somerset and see a future role for all of them."


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