The Health and Wellbeing column with Dr Anthony Clarke

We have been told to expect the closure of the Wolds Macmillan ward at Bridlington Hospital.
We have been told to expect the closure of the Wolds Macmillan ward at Bridlington Hospital.

As we head into 2018 we face uncertainty about how health services in Bridlington will change and transform in response to various external pressures within the National Health Service (NHS).

There is concern about the ageing workforce, with a significant number of health care workers approaching retirement. In addition, we have also been told to expect closure of the highly respected Wolds Macmillan ward, as part of Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) plans to change community service provision. Some may have missed this announcement as the final decision was publicised very shortly before Christmas.

The Health and Wellbeing column with Dr Anthony Clarke

The Health and Wellbeing column with Dr Anthony Clarke

I, for one, am very saddened to hear this news because of what it will mean for some terminally ill patients and their relatives. The views of various patient representative groups have not carried sufficient clout in a modern health service which supposedly champions patient choice.

In my experience, many people with a terminal illness express a preference to die at home but this is not always possible for both health and social reasons. Others are reassured by being in the peaceful environment of a palliative care unit or hospice. There is no doubt that too many terminally ill patients die in an acute hospital, partly due to lack of community healthcare resources. This may worsen.

We have been told that patients previously cared for by a specialist team of nurses in the Wolds Macmillan ward will either need to be nursed in one of Bridlington’s nursing homes, which are usually full, or face a transfer to the Beverley Community Hospital. Is this not another example of Bridlington losing out to Beverley?

We expect Bridlington and surrounding villages to grow to nearer 50,000 people over the coming decade, as the Council is planning several housing developments. Our situation on the border of the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire may not be advantageous for our population.

Our town has more health and social deprivation than other areas of the Yorkshire Wolds and Coast but we appear to have less of a collective voice than more prosperous areas of the East Riding.

Why can’t Bridlington have a community hospital like Beverley as we have, by far, the larger population base? Bridlington residents are having to travel further than ever for health care during serious illness.

Resentment about the closure of Bridlington Hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit and acute medical beds persists and as expected, this has placed more strain on the hard working Scarborough Hospital and Ambulance Service. When medical admissions were withdrawn from Bridlington by Scarborough Hospital the town was promised a patient transport service, but neither the York Hospital Trust nor the CCG currently appear prepared to resource this service.

Bridlington residents need to take up the cause of regenerating our town’s medical services. This will involve greater petitioning of the CCG, the continued help of our MP Sir Greg Knight and the involvement of our councillors.

Please also consider registering for the CCG’s Involve Patient Network, as advertised on their website http://www.eastridingofyorkshireccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/involve/ by emailing ERYCCG.Involve@nhs.net or by telephoning 01482 672156?

On a positive note, Bridlington can expect an Urgent Care Centre and the promise of more resources for community healthcare. However, I have no doubt that Bridlington’s profile needs to be raised to ensure we do not continue to lose out from the insidious erosion of historic services by strategic changes which are partly designed to save money within a cash strapped Health Service.