Plans have been unveiled which could see the closure of a ward at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester – to be more efficient.
Hospital chiefs have said despite having just undergone its ‘busiest month on record’, the hospital is expecting a dip in demand for admissions.
This is due partly to a seasonal rise in the area’s older population contracting winter illnesses,
It believes this could lead to greater efficiency in how wards operate, as advances in treatment mean lengths of stay are reduced.
The plans emerged as residents quizzed members of West Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust board at a public meeting assessing the performance of its major medical facilities.
Chief executive Marianne Griffiths, said she believed a ward closure would not compromise quality of service at the hospital.
“We have been doing more operations and have found 85 per cent of our beds are taken by emergency procedures.
“If we see the trends continue in terms of length of stays reducing, then we think we can reduce one ward in Chichester.”
Consultation is now taking place with those potentially affected by its service review. This could include staff on Boxgrove ward – a general ward – and Lavant ward – which deals with the elderly – being affected. It is expected any changes to their operations would take place this summer.
“We can escalate it up again if required and will be looking at how we are delivering services,” the hospital boss added.
She added a note of praise for colleagues in her executive’s report, stating it had been to staff’s credit that St Richard’s had remained free from MRSA for a year and had also seen cases of C.diff reduce significantly.
John Gooderham, of West Sussex LINk patient liaison group, believed service reviews should be seen in the context of all health authorities being required to make efficiency savings.
Medical director Dr Phillip Barnes, moved to allay concerns over a potential ward closure and any impact on patients.
“The treatments we can offer patients are improving all the time, and as a result the experiences of our patients are also improving and changing,” said Dr Barnes. “These improvements are significant – more people having day surgery rather than staying overnight; people recovering more quickly and so leaving hospital more quickly; better primary and community care services meaning more people do not need hospital care in the first place.
“I should stress we will retain the capacity to open additional beds during periods of high demand and that the range of services provided by the trust will continue.”