A bright new year for Bridlington Hospital - COMMENT ON THIS STORY

Bridlington Hospital'Matthew Groom'New Hosppital Manager'PA1131-2d

Bridlington Hospital'Matthew Groom'New Hosppital Manager'PA1131-2d

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A HIGH-SPEC operating theatre offering a wider range of procedures, more medical services, a new hospital entrance, new hospital beds and lockers, a combined GP Access and Minor Injuries Unit ... and even better food.

As Bridlington Hospital looks forward to a new year those are just some of the developments expected during 2012.

A year ago last month Health Secretary Andrew Lansley MP told staff, patients and residents that Bridlington Hospital had a future.

His visit to the hospital, organised by Bridlington MP Greg Knight, came at a time when it had recently lost maternity services and its cardiac unit to Scarborough Hospital under the NHS policy of centralisation of specialist areas.

Bridlington’s minor injuries unit ceased to be 24-hour in favour of 8am to 9pm, seven days a week, the roof over the main corridor through the building was leaking like a sieve, and still is, and the main operating theatre closed when a maintenance check revealed its sophisticated ventilation system was not up to scratch, making it useless for surgery.

There was also the “temporary” closure of two hospital wards, which today remain empty with a question mark over their future use.

So, a year down the line, have things improved and does Bridlington Hospital still have a future?

According to Matthew Groom, 35, the hospital development manager, the answer is yes.

“There has been, and continues to be, a considerable investment in Bridlington. There is a lot of good happening here, people do not seem to be able to stop thinking about the past,” said Mr Groom.

Work is currently underway to bring the main of Bridlington’s two operating theatres back into use.

Costing £500,000, plus around another £500,000 in staff and new equipment, it should be completed by February this year.

“It is the launch pad for a major step forward and should show people we are serious about Bridlington Hospital,” said Mr Groom.

It paves the way for a wider range of elective surgery, including orthopaedic and general surgery such as hernias, gall bladder and ear nose and throat, plus extra dental surgery.

The trust, said Mr Groom, is already advertising for additional nursing staff who will be needed for plans to provide overnight stays for patients, Monday to Thursday on Lloyd Ward, which is currently used for day care.

“The new theatre is being refurbished with the highest specifications of infection control which is needed for joint replacement surgery, including knee and hip replacement because in the future we will be able to do some of that as well,” said Mr Groom.

After a long delay, work is also in progress to repair the leaking roof over the hospital’s main corridor which has seen buckets being put down to catch rain, damp patches and cracking surfaces.

The delay, according to Mr Groom, was nothing to do with a lack of finance, but a design problem.

“It is a flat roof, in the middle of the hospital and over the main public corridor making it look a mess to visitors.

“It is also an access route to a number of electricity sub-generator plants supplying power around the hospital.

“A design for a new, pitched roof which also allows access has been produced and work should be completed by February,” he said.

The future of the empty and unused Thornton and Kent Wards is still to be decided.

Critics have asked why they should remain empty when there is often pressure on beds in Scarborough Hospital.

The reason, said Mr Groom, is that patients only come to Bridlington for rehabilitation following procedures elsewhere, mainly at Scarborough.

That includes those who live in the Bridlington area and some Scarborough patients.

“Patients have to be stable before they can come here.

“If people are ill they need to be in an acute hospital such as Scarborough, York or Hull.

“Bridlington is not an acute hospital, it does not have the medical skills or facilities,” he said.

As far as the empty wards are concerned Mr Groom said it was a question of how they can best be used for the community.

Consideration is already being given to bringing a stroke rehabilitation unit here.

Throughout the NHS, skills and services are being centralised at major hospitals where specialists are required to complete a high volume of procedures a year, higher than possible at Bridlington.

This, say the NHS, leads to gains in expertise and skills and a better outcome for the patient. At Bridlington there is now a question over the future of another ward.

Buckrose Ward is run by the totally separate Humber NHS Foundation Trust for mental health patients.

It could close as the trust has already said it will not offer a long-term solution to its mental health service needs.

According to Mr Groom, the loss of Bridlington’s 24 hour minor injuries unit to one operating 8am to 9pm seven days a week was down to under-use at night time.

“Sometimes we had only one person visiting. It was not viable to continue,” said Mr Groom. “The perception is services have been taken away from the town. Yes, we do have two empty wards, they need to be used in a different way to serve the community.

“People have been worried the hospital is being run down or is going to close. It is not.

“York, for example cannot expand, it wants people to stay in Bridlington.

“We are having to put more support services in Bridlington. There has been a 50% increase in activity going through here.

“People, and the staff are so proud of their hospital, they want it to work and want it to be better,” said Mr Groom.

And to critics who have said all the town will be left with is a glorified old folks home, he said: “Bridlington Hospital is much more than that and will always be more than that.