Public meeting on future of Lambert Hospital ward

Posted on in Community services, Hospitals, Staff, The trust

Lambert Memorial Hospital

The public will have the opportunity to learn about our recruitment efforts for The Lambert

The future of the 14-bed ward at Lambert Memorial Hospital will be the subject of a public meeting held at Thirsk School and Sixth Form College from 6pm on Tuesday 22 March 2016.

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is inviting members of the public to attend this meeting to hear about the efforts the trust has made to try to recruit staff for the ward and ask questions.

This is the first public meeting ahead of a formal public consultation process about the future of the ward.

NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, (HRW CCG) who commission local health services, will also be attending, to present on the longer-term strategy for community services.

The 14-bed ward, which provides general rehabilitation, assessment of patients’ present and future care needs, diagnostics, drug initiation and administration, pain control and palliative care, was temporarily closed six months ago (September 2015) to address patient safety concerns due to staffing pressures.

Despite the trust’s best efforts to recruit skilled nursing staff onto the ward, it still falls short of the numbers required to be able to run a safe, high quality service for patients.

Gill Hunt, director of nursing

Gill Hunt, director of nursing

Director of Nursing Gill Hunt said: “We’ve taken a number of actions to try and address staffing issues but despite all our efforts, we are finding it difficult to see how, in the short or medium-term, we are going to be able to recruit enough skilled nurses of the right quality to re-open the ward at the Lambert.

“We understand the strength of feeling about the hospital and know how disappointing this current position must be for the residents of Thirsk and surrounding areas. The public meeting is an opportunity to be open and honest and talk to the public about this situation and the longer-term vision for community care.

“It would be wrong to keep our staff, patients and the local population waiting any longer to hear about the future of the ward and nobody wants to be in a position where the ward is constantly opened and closed due to staffing difficulties. That is not the way to run a service.”

“It would be wrong to keep our staff, patients and the local population waiting any longer to hear about the future of the ward and nobody wants to be in a position where the ward is constantly opened and closed due to staffing difficulties. That is not the way to run a service.”

Gill Hunt, South Tees’ director of nursing

The public meeting will give local people the opportunity to hear about the steps the trust has taken to address the staffing shortage and discuss the future of The Lambert as part of a longer-term strategy for community services locally, which will involve public engagement and consultation over the next four months.

Janet Probert, Chief Officer of HRW CCG, said: “As a consequence of the staffing levels which have led to the temporary closure of the ward, we are now working with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to ensure the public are formally consulted before any decisions are made.

“This is the first of many meetings due to take place over the coming months and as part of the formal public consultation process – it’s also an opportunity to share our longer-term strategy for local community services.”

Background

The 14-bedded ward at Lambert Memorial Hospital has required investment and support since South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took responsibility for its staff and services in 2011 when Hambleton and Richmondshire community services transferred into the organisation.

Its future has been in question for nearly a decade and when the trust inherited the service, it was made aware of staffing issues on the ward. It has been a constant challenge for the trust to ensure a sustainable leadership and staffing approach.

In 2011/2012, the trust invested £250,000 to secure the minimum safe staffing levels at night (two registered nurses) and after being unable to attract and retain a ward manager, it appointed a clinical matron with ward leadership responsibilities in 2013.

In recent months before the temporary closure, the staffing situation had worsened due to vacancies, sickness and difficulties in covering shifts through NHS Professionals and was a real patient safety concern.

The trust did everything it could to keep the ward open including rotating staff from other wards at the Friarage Hospital and within the organisation but this, in turn, put pressure on their own nursing establishments. Existing staff on the ward were already working extra hours and continuing to operate like this was not sustainable.

Following the changes in September 2015, six additional beds were opened in the Rutson ward at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

In light of the temporary closure of the 14-bed ward at the Lambert Hospital in Thirsk, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (HRW CCG) has also commissioned a bed at Sowerby House Care Home, Thirsk under a new scheme.

Patients needing palliative and end of life care will be able to receive this care at Sowerby House Care Home. The care home will be closely supported by Thirsk GPs and community nurses.

This new scheme has been developed to ensure that the excellent provision of palliative and end of life care continues during the temporary closure.

The Thirsk Palliative and End of Life Scheme went live on 7 March 2016.

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