Patients put at risk by cuts’

A NURSE has claimed Lister Hospital is compromising patient safety by going ahead with ward closures. But East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister hospital, defended the cuts saying the changes will improve the way patients are treated. T

A NURSE has claimed Lister Hospital is compromising patient safety by going ahead with ward closures.

But East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister hospital, defended the cuts saying the changes will improve the way patients are treated.

The Lister nurse, who did not want to be named, told The Comet he was concerned about the bed closures and said no risk assessment had been carried out to gauge the impact on health. He added that the Trust was too focused on financial saving.

The Trust will reduce the number of jobs and inpatient beds by 435 and 48 respectively as well as cutting consultants' wages and sharing services with other Trusts.


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A NHS spokesman said: "There is no doubt that cost pressures are responsible for some of the planned bed reductions however other changes are clearly to enable clinical and process improvements which also have financial benefits.

"None of the changes are at the expense of clinical safety."

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But the nurse told The Comet: "I have become increasingly concerned with the readmission rates to hospital of the elderly and vulnerable patients."

According to the nurse there have been some incidents involving serious harm due to lack of care in the community and patients being discharged early.

He said wards should not close until the infrastructure within the community is developed to provide adequate health care.

He called for the public to be vigilant and attentive to the needs of elderly and vulnerable people who have been discharged from hospital because "the health care system has let them fend for themselves".

But the Trust spokesman hit back saying all hospitals are working towards standardising the average length of time a patient should stay in hospital after various treatments but said: "We recognise that recovery times vary which is why every patient's stay is assessed daily on an individual basis by medical and nursing teams."

She said hospitals have been used for too long by patients who no longer need acute treatment.

She said the Trust works closely with the Primary Care Trust to make sure patients are supported following discharge.

Anne Wells, spokesman for Staffside trade union, said: "Obviously we do share concerns about the planned bed closures and moving of services, which we believe will have an impact upon the care that can be delivered to our patients.

"However we understand that the Trust has a duty to break even and it believes that these changes will help."

* BEDFORD hospital NHS Trust has announced 200 staff will lose their jobs to improve its financial position.

Projects including bed reconfiguration, reduction in consultants' non clinical programmed activities and a reduction in management will save the Trust £5m.

Chief executive Jean O'Callaghan said the Trust faced a current deficit of nearly £12m and it planned to reduce its staffing by at least 200 this year.

She said the next steps would be to talk with the staff who will be affected by the changes.

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