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Is Savernake Safe?

July 8, 2010 2:34 PM

Wiltshire Councillors have expressed concern over plans by the NHSto cut the number of beds in Savernake Hospital on a 'temporary' basis.

NHSCommunications Manager Alison Knowles confirmed at a meeting of the council's Health Scrutiny Committee that the number of beds would reduce from 24 to 12 with alternative arrangements being made to deal with patients. She said the reduction was caused by staff vacancy rates of up to 40%, and that using Agency cover was not in the best interests of the hospital's patients. Alison Knowles reported that a couple of new staff members had been recruited, but it was not yet possible to say when the hospital would return to its normal status.

Cllr Peter Colmer has written to the committee chair asking him to get more detail from the NHSand to bring a report back to the September meeting. Residents in the Marlborough area are concerned that the 'temporary' reduction might merge into a longer term reduction in service levels.

Below is the press release from the NHSissued on June 30th.


Recruitment drive for Savernake Hospital

NHSWiltshire will be temporarily reducing the number of beds at Savernake Hospital to ensure that high standards of patient care can be maintained while we recruit additional staff.

There are a number of vacant posts on the ward and, despite five recruitment campaigns in the last month, we have not been able to find staff to work there.

This means that we have had to rely on a high number of agency nurses which means that continuity of patient care can be difficult, and the permanent nurses and health care assistants are under more pressure.

WCHS Director of Nursing, Ann Kennedy, has reviewed the situation and decided that we need to temporarily reduce the number of beds from 24 to 12 for three months, on patient safety grounds.

An intensive recruitment campaign will be undertaken during the three months, and Wiltshire Community Health Services will also talk to Great Western Hospital staff about closer working between the nursing teams to provide additional training and support to the staff on the ward. Ann Kennedy said:

"We have been looking at ways we can re-arrange care for the patients, most of whom are elderly, because it's important that patients receive the right level of care and treatment and that disruption is kept to a minimum. We have carried out a full and thorough assessment of bed use and have taken the decision t move some of the beds to other community hospitals by opening up additional capacity elsewhere.

"Based on the current levels of demand and admissions, we are certain that there should be no need to re-locate the remaining beds, and where necessary, care can be safely delivered to people in their homes by the Marlborough Neighbourhood Team, who will deliver the right level of medical and nursing support. However, we will maintain flexibility and patients can be admitted to other hospitals if the need arises" she added.

Outpatient services, consultant appointment, X-ray services, mental health services and the eating disorder unit will be unaffected and business will continue as usual.

The three months will provide an opportunity to undertake some essential maintenance work and to offer Savernake staff some intensive career training, in order for them to enhance and develop their skills.

"Our staff have undergone long periods of uncertainty due to last summer's Judicial Review and we recognise that morale is very low. We will be providing motivational training and lots of support to ensure they are re-energised and able to carry out their work with renewed enthusiasm, so that they can provide the best possible care for their patients" said Ann Kennedy.

Contact details for further information:

Sarah Maclennan, Head of Communications

01380 733376, sarah.maclennan@wiltshire.nhs.uk