Closure Plan Raises Concern Over Care

Welsh nursing leaders have said they need to be convinced patients will still receive high standards of care if a popular Swansea hospital is axed.The Royal College of Nursing Wales said plans to shut Fairwood Hospital and ward one of Hill House Hospital had sparked widespread concern.

It has now raised fears it would be unsafe to leave some patients who relied on the service alone in the community if the shake-up plan forged ahead.

Swansea NHS Trust is looking to shut the service as part of its drive to cut £12.5 million from its budget.

A total of £800,000 will be saved through the move, which could see a new specialist team of nurses to help patients get back on their feet.

Crunch talks have been called on the issue this month between Swansea Local Health Board and health watchdog, Swansea Community Health Council.

The Assembly’s NHS regional office called the meeting after the two bodies failed to reach an agreement.

A spokeswoman for RCN Wales said it still had reservations over the shake-up plan and feared patient safety could be hit.

She said: “The proposal to close the rehabilitation ward at Hill House Hospital, which currently accommodates 13 patients, and lose the services of Fairwood Hospital, which currently provides 12 beds on ward one, seven beds on ward two and nine beds in a further facility has caused much anger and distress.

“The Royal College of Nursing will need evidence that these patients can be cared for to the high standards they currently receive if these facilities are to be removed.

“The, often elderly, patients that are cared for in these wards cannot always be discharged directly from acute care as the complexities of their conditions render them unsafe to be left alone under the current availability of community services. “Some require non-acute 24-hour management for a longer period of time as recovery periods vary in this age group and quite often their cognitive function is impaired, resulting in their safety being compromised.”

But Sue Heatherington, chief executive of Swansea Local Health Board, said she felt the care on offer at Fairwood Hospital did not suit modern needs.

“I do not believe the model of care at Fairwood Hospital is good and right,” she said. “There are only 19 beds in total and that is too small to run a rehabilitation unit.

“Swansea NHS Trust would not make anyone redundant, as they need nurses in Singleton and Morriston Hospital.”

An Assembly spokeswoman added: “In line with our guidance on proposals to change health services, officials are currently in discussion with the CHC, LHB and trust on an individual basis to try to resolve this issue locally.

“It has therefore been decided not to set a date for a formal meeting between the organisations until the outcome of these discussions are known.

“If agreement still can’t be reached following these discussions, then a meeting will be arranged to seek agreement, but if this can’t be achieved then any proposal will be sent to the minister for his consideration and determination.”