A formal public consultation has been launched to decide on the future of Bridlington Hospital’s Buckrose Ward.
NHS East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have outlined three options for the future of the mental health unit - and say their preferred option is to close 12 beds in Bridlington and site eight new beds in Hull.
Other options include leaving the facility as it is at present - and also to retain existing inpatient units and carry out building works to Buckrose Ward to improve safety and dignity, which could cost between £1.5m and £2.5m.
The CCG says that there are issues with the existing accommodation at Buckrose Ward in relation to patient privacy and dignity, and a move would improve access to facilities for patients across the East Riding.
Dr Luigina Palumbo, Clinical Chair of the CCG said: “As an East Riding based GP, I have been pleased to see lots of modernisation of local health facilities in recent years. The care offered on the Buckrose Ward is limited by outdated accommodation which does not provide the best therapeutic environment.
“I am committed to our proposals which, if taken forward, will benefit patients by enabling mental health services to offer all inpatient assessment and treatment in purpose built modern accommodation and will benefit staff by improving flexibility within the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment team in Bridlington.”
Between now and October 18, the CCG and Humber NHS Foundation Trust, who run the ward, will be seeking views on the proposals.
The CCG claim that ‘after careful consideration’ they have identified closing beds at Buckrose Ward as their preferred option.
They say: “This option meets national and local quality, safety and sustainability requirements and builds on thinking which has been developed jointly between local health organisations, the local authority, patients and the public.
“As patients are admitted to the Buckrose Ward from across the East Riding, implementing the preferred option would also lead to an overall reduction in travel distances for inpatients and their carers, particularly those being admitted from Haltemprice, Beverley, South Holderness and Goole areas.”
Although the preferred changes would mean a loss of beds, occupancy rates for inpatient beds across Hull and the East Riding is currently at 89.2%.
If beds are taken away from Buckrose Ward, the Humber Trust could integrate other services into the space, including Neighbourhood Care Teams, Older People’s Mental Health teams, Working Age Adult Mental Health teams and Psychological and Physical Wellbeing services.
Jean Wormwell MBE, of pensioner’s rights group PAGER, said: “I can see the problems. Buckrose Ward needs an awful lot of money spent on it and I don’t think that they would be prepared to do it.
“I can understand that people will be unhappy that it seems that more services are leaving Bridlington Hospital, but I don’t know if there is any other option in this case - and there does look like there are plans for other services to move in to take the space if it is closed.
“We will however be making the point about providing transport for carers if it is moved away from Bridlington.”
May Sexton, long time health campaigner and Flamborough Parish Councillor, is uneasy about the proposals. The parish council will discuss the matter fully at their next meeting.
Mrs Sexton said: “I think the public consultation is just about appeasement and the decision has already been taken to move the beds away from Buckrose Ward.
“We have continually seen services taken away from Bridlington, and I don’t like to see any more go.
“There has been a great deal of money spent at the hospital and on the ward, so if improvements are needed they should be made from the solid base at Bridlington.
“I would urge everyone with a view to take part in the consultation, and let the CCG know what they think.”
Full details of the consultation can be found on the CCG website www.eastridingofyorkshire.nhs.uk/involve while a public meeting will be held in Bridlington Spa on September 30.
Richard Davies OBE, chair of patient representative group Healthwatch East Riding of Yorkshire, said: “The role of Healthwatch is to represent the community and patient voice, so we will also be asking for peoples’ views, especially users of the service and their families, and putting their views forward, and only their views.
“There have been many concerns raised recently that the experiences of users and their families have been ignored by the NHS. Healthwatch has been tasked with trying to restore a balance so that the concerns of the community will be taken into account when changes take place.”