A LONG awaited consultation into hospital closures has begun.
The NHS’s plans to combine older patients’ care services across the Fylde have been revealed as the scheme is put out for the public to have its say.
Under the proposals, consultant-led rehabilitation services currently offered at Clifton Hospital, in St Annes, and Rossall Hospital, in Fleetwood, and formerly at Wesham Hospital before it was closed last January, would only be on offer at Clifton.
The move could also see Bispham Hospital on Rysecar Way closed.
Bosses claim the fact there are more facilities at Clifton will reduce time in hospital and more support will be offered to patients’ and their families within their homes.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said this will improve and modernise care, and a 12-week consultation period started yesterday.
Dr James McIlmoyle, a consultant in stroke medicine, said: “By concentrating our resources and expertise on one site, consultants and specialists will be able to provide more time delivering direct patient care, leading to better outcomes and shorter lengths of stay for patients.”
These new proposals follow the closure of Wesham Hospital without consultation as part of cost saving measures.
But bosses have said these latest proposals are not part of a cost saving measure.
Tim Welch, acting chief executive, said: “Our argument is you can provide the best care by moving the unit to the one site.”
The rehabilitation units offer care and therapy to patients getting back on their feet after an accident, ill health or operation.
Clifton Hospital would have 28 additional beds for consultant-led rehabilitation, staffed by current NHS staff, though bosses said taking on additional staff is possible.
The proposals also outline plans to provide 20 beds each in the Wyre and Blackpool – possibly at Bispham – areas for nurse led care. Hospital bosses today vowed they were making moves to ensure people can access the hospital via public transport links and hospital transport services.
Pat Oliver, director of operations, added: “People go to hospital for the services, not the buildings.”
To improve care in the community £3.6m is also proposed to be invested to look after patients in their own homes after they have been discharged from hospital.
This money will be spent over 18 months and includes increasing services from five to seven days a week and a new service to direct patients to specific services earlier.
The consultation period runs until January 31, with public meetings taking place in Cabus, Kirkham, Lytham, Bispham, Knott End, Fleetwood, Poulton and Blackpool between November 27 and January 10.