Protest in Great Yarmouth over proposed closure of hospital beds
PUBLISHED: 16:57 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 16:57 20 March 2014
Hospital staff and union members gathered in Great Yarmouth to protest against proposed bed cuts.
The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk group held a demonstration outside the Kings’s Centre ahead of a HealthEast meeting on Wednesday.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), which oversees mental health services, is part-way through a public consultation into reducing the number of adult acute beds.
The trust wants to cut the beds at Northgate Hospital in Yarmouth and Carlton Court near Lowestoft from 28 to 20, and relocate onto one single site.
HealthEast, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for Yarmouth and Waveney, is running the 12-week consultation which already been labelled a “sham” by opponents. Earlier this month campaigners accused the trust of misleading the public when it emerged two inpatient wards at Carlton Court had already been mothballed even before the consultation had started.
Protesting in Yarmouth between 5.30pm and 6pm was Sarah Bilyard, a member of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk who works at Northgate Hospital.
“There is a chronic shortage of beds across the country,” she said.
“If the wards were to close we simply wouldn’t be able to care for the people who need our support. If anything we need more beds.”
Mrs Bilyard said the both sites were full yesterday, with six patients without beds - a “common occurance”.
“People from this area are already being sent as far away as Glasgow because there aren’t enough beds locally,” she added.
“On top of staff shortages, this is not the time to be shutting beds.”
The trust has previously assured the public no decision has been made to permanently close wards at Carlton Court, despite them not being used. Health bosses said they were changing the trust’s model of care to provide more dementia support in the community.
The public consultation on the mental health service shake-up runs until April 24.
For more information on the consultation, visit www.greatyarmouthandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk.