Elderly Care Wards Close To Save £21m

Two Merseyside hospital wards are closing to save £21.5m. A general ward in Arrowe Park will go, and an elderly care ward at Clatterbridge, both in Wirral. Two other elderly care wards at Clatterbridge will move to Arrowe Park in a shake-up starting in February. Wirral Hospital NHS trust said there would be no redundancies, but staff may have to move or take new jobs. The changes, described by officials as a “reconfiguration”, are part of round two of a five-year cost-cutting drive to save £4m by 2008. Patients’ stays in hospital will be shortened along with more belt-tightening.

A trust spokeswoman said the two wards which are closing were no longer needed as more people were treated in the community.

The two Clatterbridge elderly care wards would move to vacant sites at Arrowe Park, creating a single centre for the elderly.

She added: “Advances in medicine and the recruitment of additional clinical staff at the trust will mean patients admitted to hospital generally stay for less time.  Over the past 24 months the average stay of in-patients at the trust has reduced by one day.”

In a briefing, hospital staff were told they would be offered new jobs that suited their skills and patients’ needs.  Workers who faced moving could be retrained.

Chief executive Len Richards said although bed numbers would fall, money was being spent on more consultants and a new haematology day ward.