Update – January 2017

Halesworth Health have been working hard for 5 years in a joint project with the two local sports charities, Halesworth Campus Limited (HCL) and Halesworth Playing Fields Association (HPFA), to ensure NHS facilities and services are maintained and future proofed in this remote area. Gt. Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) made the decision in Autumn 2015 to close Patrick Stead Hospital (PSH), but only when new facilities were available.

Castlemeadow Care (CMC), an independent care provider, was to have built a new facility to include not only beds for residential, nursing and dementia care, but also NHS funded community beds and outpatient facilities, adjacent to the surgery on the current sports fields. The money raised from the sale of that land to CMC would have gone towards development of sports facilities on the former Middle School site.

We are very sorry to have to report that the Halesworth Playing Fields Association has recently withdrawn from the project meaning that the Dairy Hill land is no longer available. This is extremely disappointing. In a joint project, the most important factor is good communication. While there were clearly issues at times with both charities, sadly HPFA had refused to talk directly with HCL for the last 6 months, to address any problems or concerns between the two sports charities, without insisting on the presence of expensive solicitors from London.

The CCG are very supportive of this project and have recently repeated their statement that they will fund NHS beds, and wish to see outpatient services within the new facility. We are pleased to report that CMC are still keen to develop health and care facilities locally. They and HH are now working with HCL to try to provide health, care and sports facilities, all on the former Middle School site. It is vital that this is allowed to happen so that local people are not let down again.

Because Halesworth is so remote and with an elderly demographic there are many things needed in addition to the current excellent primary health care team including
• A good range of outpatient facilities and services locally.
• Continuing excellent day care facilities.
• Supportive dementia services, as we have now.
• A well resourced, locally based, multidisciplinary team to try to keep people at home rather than admit to acute hospitals in conjunction with:
• Community NHS funded beds – always available – to treat those people who don’t need an acute hospital admission, but who can’t be managed at home.
• Excellent palliative and end of life care, both at home and in local community beds.
• A good nursing home, as there are none locally (the nearest is Priory Paddocks, Darsham 7 miles and difficult if no car.)
• Extra beds for high standard, evidence based dementia care.
• ‘Housing with extra care’ to try to maintain people’s independence as long as possible.
• Information and support for people with serious illness.

Meanwhile East Coast Community Healthcare is still unable to recruit nurses for the beds in PSH, which as a result remain ‘temporarily’ closed. They had promised to re-open the beds if they could find enough staff, but have this week announced that they are withdrawing from their contract with the CCG, giving 3 months notice. We await the response from the CCG.  This lack of community beds is putting immense pressure on the GP’s and District Nurses who are struggling, without adequate admission prevention services, to keep people at home and to avoid unnecessary acute admissions to the overcrowded district hospitals, including people at the end of their lives.

The outpatient clinics were recently moved to very unsatisfactory facilities in the physiotherapy block, but due to widespread community complaints to the CCG many of the clinics are now back in PSH. We continue to monitor that situation.

The excellent Rayner Green Resource (day) Centre, for people with severe disability including dementia, is apparently to remain open but the way services are provided is being reviewed by the CCG, who are concerned about costs in this time of severe, overall NHS funding shortages.

It is vital that all these services are available locally and we will do our best to ensure this happens. We are also determined to ensure the CMC/NHS project can now continue, even without HPFA involvement, and will keep you informed of developments.