Plans to close Macmillan Unit to go ahead

Bridlington Hospital
Bridlington Hospital

Health bosses have decided to press ahead with controversial changes to services at Bridlington Hospital.

Although the town will be home to one of three new Urgent Care Centres, which will be open 16 hours a day to treat cuts, burns and simple fractures, it will lose the Macmillan Wolds Unit which offers end-of-life care.

Those community beds will move to East Riding Community Hospital in Beverley, while other patients will be expected to be looked after in care homes or at home.

It is a decision which is opposed by Terry Cunliffe, regional industrial officer for health at Unite the Union.

He said: “This is very close to my heart. In the past and recently, I have had family members need palliative care and I am aware of the burden it places on families when they are moved home, and the work involved in getting care packages in place.

“This seems to be changing the burden of care on to those who have paid tax for an NHS, and asks them to take responsibility.”

East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced on Tuesday it intended to progress with implementing plans first announced in 2016.

Concerns were raised during a three-month consultation but the CCG’s plans were independently scrutinised and supported by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel following a referral of the plans to the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt.

Although the project looked mainly at the future of minor injuries units, it also focussed on changes to community beds which will affect the Macmillan Wolds Unit.

Dr Gina Palumbo from the CCG said: “ Wherever possible, more patients will be looked after in their own home environment avoiding the need for a hospital admission. I am delighted that we are now able to start bringing in the changes that are necessary to improve the care of patients in the East Riding.”

But Mr Cunliffe said he was worried about the families of patients who would now be treated 20 miles from home in their final days, as well as the staff who worked at the Macmillan Unit.

He said: “Many of these people are of an age where such journeys for those left to visit in the final weeks of life are emotionally and physically difficult and my heart goes out to them.

“I have no problems with families who want to be at home. I respect that but suspect some of those who are faced with that will feel they have no alternative. I think it’s the wrong decision.

“There’s a great community feeling for places like this where staff show love and compassion in people’s darkest hours.

“But this closure is just a further example of what’s happening to our NHS across the country.

“People are very sad. They come into nursing because they care.

“Staff have built up relationships with people they work with and the type of patients they are caring for and now they are concerned for the future, not only of themselves, but for the hospital.”