NHS organisations on the Fylde coast have agreed plans for a reorganisation of older people’s rehabilitation services that will involve the closure of two community hospitals.
Rossall Hospital, to the north of the Fylde coast, and Wesham Hospital, inland and to the south, will be permanently mothballed under the plans. Their services will be relocated to Clifton Hospital on the southern part of the coast, which will be expanded and have a consultant-led rehabilitation service developed on the site.
A joint statement from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, which runs all three hospitals, Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group, and Fylde and Wyre CCG, said they would begin transferring patients from Rossall to Clifton on 1 August.
Wesham has been provisionally closed since 2010, pending consultation on the reconfiguration plan.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals medical director Mark O’Donnell said developing a consultant-led service at Clifton would enable the trust to “vastly improve the quality of rehabilitation we are able to provide to our patients”.
He added: “By concentrating our resources and expertise on one site we will be able to provide more time delivering patient care, leading to better outcomes and shorter lengths of stay for patients.”
In addition to the reorganisation of hospital services, the reconfiguration will involve a £3.6m investment in schemes to improve rehabilitation services in the community, including the provision of seven-day community nursing and therapy teams, better support for patients once they leave hospital, and a single point of access for support services.
Blackpool CCG chief clinical officer Amanda Doyle told HSJ: “It involves closing two community facilities, but that will enable us to provide a much, much better service.” She added that public consultation had shown support for developing a consultant-led service on a single site, and “the concerns people had were largely around transport or location, rather than the principle, which people have agreed with”.
In total, 76 per cent of respondents to a public consultation on the plans either strongly supported or “tended to support” the proposal to develop a consultant-led service. There was also a slight majority in favour of permanently closing Wesham Hospital, with 52 per cent supporting the proposal.
The greatest public opposition was to the proposal to move Rossall’s services to Clifton, with 63 per cent opposing the plan. A report on the public consultation quoted one respondent as saying: “The proposals greatly disadvantage Fleetwood residents, who are among the least well off on the whole Fylde coast. If Rossall Hospital is judged not to be viable the services should be relocated to Fleetwood, not Clifton.”
The joint statement said the public had strongly supported a proposal to provide a non-consultant led care facility in the north of the patch. It added: “Work is still on-going regarding the location and types of services provided from this facility.”