Hospital turns away patients

13 June 2008

By Mark Branagan Yorkshire Post

SCARBOROUGH Hospital had to turn away patients after running out of beds just as an NHS jury went out to consider its verdict on moves to centralise more services on the site.

Independent experts on NHS service changes, the Independent Review Panel, have been investigating plans by Scarborough Hospital to take over maternity services currently provided at Whitby, Malton and Bridlington as well as the cardio monitoring unit at Bridlington.

Only hours after the panel announced its report on maternity would be with the Health Secretary by the end of the month, people who turned up for treatment at Scarborough on Wednesday morning were sent on a 100- mile round trip to hospitals in Hull and Middlesbrough.

The trust said the beds shortage was due to sudden surge of people arriving needing care. The reason was still being looked into but wards in Hull and York were also very busy.

A spokesman added: "Unfortunately we had to stop taking admissions at about 6am on Wednesday due to a lack of beds available. We arranged with the ambulance service to divert patients to Hull hospitals or James Cook in Middlesbrough and we would like to thank both for their support.

"We were able to reopen to admissions at midday and would like to apologise to any one affected. Throughout the course of the temporary diversion we remained in frequent contact with the ambulance service so we could collectively manage the pressures across the health community.

"Whilst this has been an unfortunate episode it has demonstrated our ability to work in close partnership with our neighbouring trusts and the ambulance service."

But Mick Pilling, Chairman of Bridlington's Save Our Hospital Campaign, said it did not inspire much confidence in moving services to Scarborough if the hospital could not handle the patients it had already got.

He added: "If you centralise everything where on earth are they going to find beds for another two acute wards from Bridlington? It is totally ludicrous. I do not know who is running the show up there but I think the general public could do better. All we seem to hear about is shortage of staff and no beds.

"It does not surprise me there were no beds because it is something that has been happening quite regularly up there. The system is getting completely out of hand and it needs a complete change of management. All they are trying to do is save money here, there and everywhere."

The review panel was called in to advise on proposals by Scarborough to change maternity services at Whitby, Malton and Bridlington Community Hospitals and develop a separate midwife-led unit on the Scarborough Hospital site.

The review team has met with a wide range of people including patients, staff, local authority representatives, local councillors, interest groups and individuals living and working in the area.

Lead panel member Gina Tiller said: "We are now carefully reviewing all the evidence that we have gathered. Our key focus throughout the review is the safety, sustainability and accessibility of services.

"The final recommendations we provide to the Health Secretary will offer local people high quality healthcare. Our reviews are conducted in an open and transparent way and we will be publishing our report and recommendations once they have been considered by the Health Secretary."

The team is still gathering evidence about plans to reconfigure acute medical and cardiac admissions at Bridlington Hospital and expects to deliver its final report by July 31.

A Scarborough trust spokesman said: "The IRP visit has been very important. It will reassure the people of Bridlington that the decisions made are made on an independent basis. We look forward to hearing the recommendations to the Secretary of State."