Closure of Inpatients Ward, Midhurst Community Hospital
Dear Sir, We were disappointed to read of the decision to close this wonderful facility without any prior discussions with the Riverbank Medical Centre just a few metres away. Midhurst has already lost its very own hospital, King Edward VII, and this step seems very short-sighted. The country as a whole has an ageing population, and this demographic is reflected in Midhurst and surrounding villages. Furthermore, the local population is likely to increase with the development of several hundred new homes on sites identified in the SDNP Local Plan. Earlier this year we surveyed our members. Of those who responded 75% wanted us to ensure that existing health services in Midhurst be maintained or improved. The reason given for the closure was an inability to recruit staff. We deserve to know why this is a problem. Is it because of a national shortage of nursing staff? Or is it because of a problem specific to Midhurst? If the latter, how can the community come together to resolve the problem? We await your reassurance that this closure is not permanent and that you will do all in your power to re-open the ward at the earliest opportunity. Yours faithfully Harvey Tordoff Community Liaison Officer”
We received a response from Richard Quirk, Medical Director, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust on 15 August, but it was marked confidential so we haven't reproduced it here. However, we don't think we are in breach of that confidentiality by saying that conversations about the unit are ongoing and although the decision to close the unit is indefinite it is not permanent. Mr Quik also commented that staffing at the Bailey Unit has been particularly challenging.
We also communicated with Gillian Keegan, MP, in particular about the concerns expressed about the running of the unit prior to its closure. She replied on 3 September:
"I have been informed [by Kirk Mills-Ward, Head of Communications and Engagement at the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust] that all of the patients being looked after at the Bailey Unit have since been discharged, and Midhurst Community Hospital staff working on the unit have been supported through the changes and have been redeployed or found other employment."
The hospital will be discussed at WSCC's Health and Social Care Select Committee on 27 September. Meanwhile, there are ongoing conversations with various interested parties about the provision of community inpatient beds in Midhurst although it seems that this is not something that can be provided in isolation.