Arundel Hospital beds will remain for local people, Nick Herbert is told

Arundel Hospital beds will remain available for local people, Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has been told by the Western Sussex Primary Care Trust.

Having called for an urgent meeting to discuss the future of services at Arundel Hospital, Mr Herbert met with Claire Holloway, the Chief Executive of the Western Sussex PCT, at the House of Commons on 16 November.

At the meeting Mr Herbert received assurances from Claire Holloway that, while there are still some issues to be addressed, the Arundel GPs will continue to have clinical control of the beds at the Hospital and that the continued provision of services at the Hospital by the GPs is very much the PCT's preferred option.

In respect of the availability of beds, Claire Holloway explained that with current bed occupancy at around 65 per cent, the PCT aims to increase the Hospital's bed occupancy rate to 90 - 95 per cent.  By doing this the PCT aims to maintain the current number of beds available to local people while increasing the capacity for rehabilitation patients who would have traditionally been treated at St Richards.

With rehabilitation patients having already been transferred from the Ashling Ward at St Richards to the three community hospitals at Arundel, Bognor Regis and Midhurst, Mr Herbert sought a guarantee from the PCT that there would always be a bed available at Arundel Hospital for an Arundel resident wanting one.

While the PCT could not give an absolute guarantee, they pointed out that it would be the Arundel GPs who controlled admissions.  Mr Herbert was pleased to hear that as a safeguard there will be a six month review of this change.

Since the meeting, Mr Herbert has submitted a written statement outlining his constituent's concerns to the West Sussex Health Scrutiny Select Committee which is meeting on 5 December to consider a report on ‘Re-focusing the hospital-based rehabilitation service in Western Sussex' and its possible implications for the future of Arundel Hospital.

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. Mr Herbert submitted the following written statement to the West Sussex Health Scrutiny Select Committee for their consideration:

Submission to West Sussex Health Scrutiny Select Committee on ‘Re-focusing the Hospital-based Rehabilitation Service in Western Sussex'

I am grateful to the Committee for inviting me to outline my concerns about the proposals for Arundel Hospital under the PCT's ‘Service Redesign programme'.  I am sorry that I will be unable to join you for the meeting, but Parliament is sitting that day.

Since the initial furore over Western Sussex Primary Care Trust's plans for Arundel Hospital, I am glad to have learnt in recent weeks that both the PCT and the Arundel GPs have been actively engaged in discussions to resolve the issues and misunderstandings which have caused a great deal of concern to many of my constituents.

Like me, the residents of Arundel regard the Hospital as a vital asset to the local community and its people.  Having been endowed to the people of the Arundel by the Duke of Norfolk in 1932 and founded with the help of public subscription, the community very much sees the Hospital as theirs.  To this day it is actively funded and supported by them.

In the past month I have received nearly 300 letters from residents.  They were concerned, along with Arundel's GPs, that the closure of the rehabilitation ward at St Richard's, Chichester as part of the PCT's ‘Service Redesign' would lead to the loss of beds which are currently available to local people.  They were also concerned that the Arundel GPs would lose clinical control of the Hospital.

Following seperate meetings with Dr Andrew Mott of the Arundel Surgery and Claire Holloway, the Chief Executive of the Western Sussex PCT, I have received assurances that an accommodation should be reached between the two parties such that the Arundel GPs will continue to control the beds at the hospital and that full clinical judgement will rest with them.  While I understand from Claire Holloway that there are still issues to be addressed, I have been reassured that the continued provision of services by the Arundel GPs is the PCT's preferred option.

A key area of concern is the availability of beds.  It is vital that the beds which are currently available for the use of the local community will continue to be so.  With current bed occupancy at around 65 per cent, I understand from Claire Holloway, that the PCT aims to increase the hospital's bed occupancy rate to 90 - 95 per cent.  By doing this the PCT aims to maintain the current number of beds available to local people while increasing the capacity for rehabilitation patients who would have traditionally been treated at St Richards in Chichester.

While the PCT could not give an absolute guarantee that a bed would always available to an Arundel resident wanting one, they pointed out that it would be the Arundel GPs who controlled admissions.  I was pleased to hear that as a safeguard there will be a six month review of this change.  I pointed out to the PCT that any incident of a bed not being available to a local person would inevitably raise serious concerns in the local community.

I am glad that the PCT and the Arundel GPs have been working together to overcome the misunderstandings that have caused much concern to my constituents.  I understand that the PCT is currently awaiting the first draft of a letter from the GPs and I hope that the two groups will be able to issue a joint statement saying that they have come to an agreement and that local people will continue to be treated at Arundel Hospital by Arundel's GPs.

NICK HERBERT MP

24 November 2005

Ed Barker