Temporary suspension of new inpatient admissions to Southwold Hospital to ensure patient safety
East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) has announced the temporary suspension of new inpatient admissions to Southwold Hospital on the grounds of patient safety due to shortages of trained nursing staff across all four community hospitals.
Admissions to Southwold Hospital will be temporarily suspended for three months from Friday 14 August as a result of nursing staff shortages. ECCH, supported by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, will review the position in early November.
The remaining three community hospitals – Beccles, Northgate and Patrick Stead in Halesworth – will remain open to admissions, but due to the staff shortages, will be running at reduced capacity, adjusting bed numbers depending on safe staffing levels. The staff from Southwold, including nurses, healthcare assistants and estates, will be temporarily relocated to one of the other community hospitals.
Jonathan Williams, chief executive of ECCH said: “This has not been an easy decision to take but patient safety must come first. ECCH is a very popular local employer, but we will have a current vacancy rate of 40% amongst our trained nursing staff in our community hospitals; this includes sickness absence, maternity leave and vacancies. This is largely due to uncertainty around the public consultation that is running at the moment, and it has been difficult to recruit new staff until a clear future is decided.
“Patient and staff safety is our priority. Continuing to admit patients to three of the four hospitals is the best outcome in this very difficult situation. I want to pay tribute to all our community hospital staff who are taking a flexible approach to this challenge. We are fortunate to have such a strong and dedicated team.”
The four community hospitals are included in the CCG’s current ‘shape of the system’ public consultation, which closes on 2 September.
Cath Gorman, chief nurse at NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We fully support ECCH’s decision and have been working closely with them over the last few days to agree the best way to continue to provide safe care in our community hospitals. The out of hospital teams run by ECCH in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth are working hard providing excellent care to patients, already reducing the need for admission to community hospitals.
“Our public consultation on the shape of the system closes on 2 September, and we will make our decision about new models of care on 5 November at our governing body meeting.”
Kate Gill, director of operations at the CCG said: “We know this decision will be a real worry to the people of Southwold. I want to confirm today that we remain committed to a new build of a nursing/care home in Reydon on land owned by the NHS, adjacent to the Sole Bay Health Centre.”
For more information about the shape of the system consultation, visit
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