St Albans hospital closures discussed at crisis meeting

St Albans City Hospital - photo courtesy of Google Street View.

St Albans City Hospital - photo courtesy of Google Street View. - Credit: Archant

A crisis meeting with health bosses following the announcement that 39 community beds are to be closed at St Albans City Hospital offered little hope of a U-turn.

Cllr Dreda Gordon was one of several district and county councillors who met with various NHS bodies to discuss the shock closure this week.

She had previously proposed an emergency motion at a full council meeting calling for a meeting with Herts Valley CCG and Herts Community Trust.

Cllr Gordon said: “They are not doing a consultation on the closures as they know what the answer will be.

“Which is fine, but it seems like they were talking about these closures way back.

“But despite these two wards being in a partnership, this was never brought to council.

“It has made a laughing stock of the whole process.”

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The 39 community beds are located in the Langton and Sopwell wards, and used by Herts Community Trust (HCT) for rehabilitative care after treatment.

They had been funded by Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), until recent budget cuts led the CCG to end the funding.

HCT chief executive David Law said: “The reduction in our contract means that we are currently using money from budgets for other services to keep Sopwell and Langton wards open, and this cannot continue for much longer.”

The trust justified the decision by highlighting that around 40 per cent of current patients were Watford residents and only 31 per cent had a St Albans area postcode.

From now on, patients who are well enough to be discharged will be given part-time rehabilitative care in their own home.

Cllr Gordon said: “The only way I found about it was in the Herts Advertiser. It’s a disgrace, really disappointing.”

St Albans MP Anne Main also expressed her concerns saying: “I did find the justification for closing these wards slightly puzzling.

“My concern was simply stating that most of your patients come from outside the area is an argument can be applied to any aspect of health delivery.

“I do think when the NHS is under this type of financial pressure, we have to seriously look at the pay structures at the top of our health service.”

Monday’s meeting was attended by various district and county councillors, as well as several NHS officials, including David Law and David Evans, the director of Your Care, Your Future.

After the meeting, Cllr Gordon told the Herts Advertiser : “I am extremely disappointed by the meeting.

“We feel like a second-rate partner. There will now be no rehabilitative care centre at the hospital.

“During the rehabilitative process people need 24/7 care and access to therapists, which cannot be provided at home.”

HCT has announced it will be holding engagement events to hear people’s views, with one scheduled for St Albans next week.

The event is being held at the Jubilee Centre on Catherine Street on Tuesday, March 14, running from 2pm to 3.30pm, and again from 6pm to 7.30pm.

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