LITTLEHAMPTON Hospital has become possibly the first casualty of the government’s controversial NHS reforms.
Just hours before the Health Bill passed its final stage in the House of Commons, transferring much of the decision-making in the NHS to GPs, it was announced that local doctors had played a central role in recommending Littlehampton Hospital should not be rebuilt.
Their proposal came as a bitter blow for campaigners who have worked for years, first to save the old hospital from closure, and then, after it was demolished, to demand that promises to rebuild it were kept.
On Tuesday (March 20), their hopes were finally dashed when NHS chiefs revealed the recommendation, which will go before the board of NHS Sussex for the final decision on Tuesday next week.
The Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), made up of GPs in an area stretching from Shoreham through Worthing and Arun to Chichester, carried out a survey of health needs in the greater Littlehampton area and concluded that, on clinical grounds, there was no case for rebuilding the hospital.
Officials said people should not be “fixated” on having a building, and that the quality of services provided, and patient care, were what mattered most.
Dr Tim Kimber, a partner at Littlehampton’s Park Surgery, and an executive member of the CCG, said: “We have already, over the last six or seven years, re-provided a lot of what was going on in Littlehampton Hospital.
“We still have 46 community beds in the Arun area at Zachary Merton Hospital and Darlington Court (a private nursing home), but that doesn’t take away the thrust of our work, which is around integrating health and social care.”
Steven Pollock, chief operating officer for the CCG, said: “Far too many of our elderly population end up in hospital, and they don’t need to be there.”
The emphasis in future, they stressed, would be more on looking after people in their own homes.
Dr Kimber said the evidence gained from the study carried out by the CCG had been clear-cut.
“I do feel passionately that we can deliver clinical services to our population in a better way. We would be doing a disservice to our population by saying we can deliver it better in a building.
“It’s about the people delivering the services, their skills and how they work together.
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