Halesworth Health Update: Spring 2017

Halesworth Health has been trying for several years to find an alternative solution for the time when Patrick Stead Hospital finally closes. While we would all prefer everything to be under NHS provision, the Health Authorities had repeatedly said over many years that there was no money or plan for investment in NHS facilities in Halesworth. The best alternative seemed to be a combination of the independent sector working with the NHS.

We are delighted to be able to report that Castlemeadow Care (CMC), an independent care provider, is still willing to commit to health and care facilities in Halesworth. This is despite delays in the original project, which has been under development for almost two years, and, as you may have read, the playing field land at Dairy Hill now not being available.

We are concerned that press reports from Halesworth Playing Fields Association (HPFA) suggested that CMC summarily ended the negotiations for the sale of the Dairy Hill site.  We do not think that this was the case. We understand that HPFA land could not be sold to CMC without a merger agreement between themselves and the Campus charity being well under way. When HPFA ended the merger discussions with Campus this effectively ended the negotiations for the sale of the land with CMC. We think it is important to make this point because CMC have committed so much time and expenditure in the last two years to this project, and have a clear vision for how the independent sector can work effectively in conjunction with NHS facilities.

Now the plan remains to build a care home, alongside housing with extra care apartments and bungalows, but these will now all be on part of the former Middle School site. The remainder of the Middle School site will be developed for sport and vocational education facilities, which we believe are an essential complement to our health project.

The 67-bedded care home will offer not only residential and nursing care facilities, including those for people with dementia, but will also include NHS funded beds and outpatient services. The Gt. Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) continue to commit to providing these much-needed local NHS services within the new building. As you will know, the inpatient beds at Patrick Stead Hospital remain closed due to staffing shortages. East Coast Community Healthcare has recently announced their withdrawal from the contract to run these beds and we await the CCG response to this. The outpatient services continue in the main building at PSH and in the physiotherapy block, but the CCG are considering various options for their future. There are now no community beds nor a hospital admission prevention team locally. This is placing a huge strain on local GP’s and District nurses looking after people in the community. Patients, including those terminally ill, are having to be admitted to the overcrowded acute district hospitals when they would be far better cared for locally. This experience has redoubled our commitment to reinstating these community beds within a new facility.

Cutlers Hill Surgery offers an excellent minor injuries service to help people avoid travelling to overcrowded, distant A&E departments; it’s vital to ensure that this service continues, and we are supporting the surgery in their efforts to achieve this.

A joint project group comprising Halesworth Health, Campus and CMC members is working hard to overcome various hurdles, and achieve our aims within the inevitable constraints of a smaller available site. We have very positive support from the District and County councils for the project, and hope to take the new joint project forward smoothly so that vital local health, care, and sports facilities can be achieved for Halesworth and the local area.