Closure of Lowestoft Hospital – Health Service Ombudsman

Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts

356 London Road South, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0BQ

Email: christopherbrooks631@gmail.com Tel (01502) 563208

To: Dame Julie Mellor DBE, 

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

4th April 2014

Dear Madam,

Official Complaint about HealthEast’s Consultation concerning future Health Services in Lowestoft and the resulting .

On behalf of the membership of the Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts and a great number of residents of Lowestoft who have benefited from health services provided at Lowestoft Hospital in the past, I wish to make a formal complaint to you about the way in which closure of NHS beds at Lowestoft hospital has come about due to the action taken by the GT Yarmouth & Waveney CCG (HealthEast) as a result of their biased consultation exercise held last year. Their findings were directly contrary to our own simply arranged public poll as can be seen from our original complaint to them (Paper A) hence our need to challenge them but their reply (Paper B) questioned our validity as much as we did theirs and did not answer our question.

As a result we complained to Healthwatch Suffolk monitoring group (Paper C) and they eventually replied (Paper D). They said they would take our complaint seriously but as no one else complained to them our concerns were dismissed as you can judge for yourself. I attended Healthwatch Suffolk’s recent annual conference addressed by Dr Dan Poulter MP (Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Health Services) whose key note speech indicated that the role of Healthwatch was to challenge the NHS and to hold Health Service providers and commissioners to account. This we believe we have done and can go no further than your good offices.

Even though the ward beds are now empty at Lowestoft Hospital since 31st March, it will not close under the present plans until the Autumn as Andy Evans answered a question of mine at the March meeting of the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) Board of Governors saying they were on track for the closure of Lowestoft Hospital in September. He did not mention then that the beds would become vacated by the end of March this year as he was planning a special media announcement to be made about it later.

Even now, we say a proper unbiased consultation could have seen the NHS facility of Lowestoft Hospital retained, upgraded and used for a variety of clinical services, and beds used to relieve possible ‘bed-blocking’ situation at the acute JPUH, instead of the new practice of buying in scarce beds from the local Care home sector to cater for patients who need them.

At the time of writing we understand there has been a large under-spend of NHS resources of a few billion pounds this year – we ask cannot some of this be distributed to such areas as ours? It would make a welcome change from the cost-cutting exercise driven by the local CCG! It would certainly assist in the provision of extra health clinicians and nurses who need to be employed in the treating of patients’ healthcare at home which is the declared aspiration and vision of integrated care by the local CCG.

Our real concern now is that unless much more provision of nurses is made immediately in home visiting, many elderly will suffer from the lack of such excellent local hospitals staffed by nurses as Lowestoft Hospital was which was recognised as such in a recent inspection by CQC. We declare that any staffed local hospital should not close until a well-resourced home and community visiting healthcare system is up and running and proven in operation – hence our concern. This submission is in accordance with section four from your Principles of Good Complaint handling – (Paper E enclosed).

I await your comments with interest – email would be fine.

Yours sincerely

Christopher J. Brooks,

Minutes Secretary, Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts.

also

Member, Healthwatch Suffolk.

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