Ward at Bromley hospital could be closed
PUBLISHED: 14:31 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:38 25 July 2018
A cash-strapped NHS trust is considering closing an underachieving hospital ward to help "deliver essential savings".
The Elizabeth Ward at Orpington Hospital, which opened just 18 months ago, could be closed next month as King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust looks to cut costs.
The ward provides short-term care for frail elderly patients transferred from the Princess Royal University Hospital om Farnborough.
Two wards were opened in January 2017, the Elizabeth and Churchill wards, opening 38 beds to bridge the gap between hospital and home care.
That number could be halved as the trust looks to improve after it was plunged into financial special measures by the NHS regulator.
The ward could be repurposed, but will no longer be providing short-term care for frail patients.
In a letter sent to Bromley Council, it was revealed the service is not “meeting its goals” in terms of staffing, patient case mix and length of stay.
Matthew Trainer, managing director, PRUH and South Sites, said in the letter to the head of adult social care: “The length of stay has been compounded due to shortage of discharge co-ordinators and social workers, patients waiting for residential placements, home packages of care and lack of available respite beds in the community setting.
“We have also had challenges with recruitment which has led to overspend on locum doctors; and we’ve had to use bank and agency nurses to run a seven-day service.
“The ongoing high running costs mean we are struggling to further develop the service and we can’t deliver essential savings.”
The NHS trust was placed in special measures in December, with the regulator saying a deficit of £92m ws forecast for this year, more than double the orignal £28m planned for.
The number of over-65s in Bromley is 60,000, the largest aging population in the capital.
Its intended that the Churchill ward will remain open, and the hospital said there would be no redundancies because of the closure.
A spokeswoman for King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “In January 2017, Orpington Hospital opened two wards to provide short-term care for frail older people at the end of their hospital stay.
“Despite excellent patient feedback, a number of factors have led us to consider the future of one of these wards.
“However, working with local partners we remain committed to providing first-class care for frail older patients as well as to Orpington Hospital and the community it serves as a whole.”
The proposla to close the ward will be discussed at a special council meeting next week, Monday July 30.
It comes just a week after Eltham Hospital proposed the relocation of its frailty unit to free up underused beds ahead of what is expected to be a tough winter for the NHS.