Urgent meeting demanded over St Albans City Hospital wards closure

Cllr Dreda Gordon

Cllr Dreda Gordon - Credit: Archant

The shock announcement that 39 community beds face the axe at St Albans City Hospital led district councillors to pass an emergency motion calling for an urgent meeting with health bosses on the matter.

The Herts Advertiser broke the news that the Langton and Sopwell wards would be closed in a matter of weeks as part of a £2.8m budget-saving exercise by Herts Community Trust (HCT).

Under new cost-saving measures, patients will be assessed and treated at home after being released from hospital as soon as possible after treatment.

Funding support has been substantially cut by Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the organisation that plans and pays for most NHS services, forcing the HCT to take drastic action.

In response to the announcement, Cllr Dreda Gordon proposed an emergency motion at last week’s full council meeting calling for an urgent meeting between council officers, group leaders and health partnership spokespersons and representatives from the CCG and the trust.

She told councillors that she had an elderly relative in the Sopwell ward, but only found out about the closure when she read the Herts Ad’s website: “It seems to me that this decision was made behind closed doors and with indecent haste. Nothing was mentioned to me as a relative that this was in the pipeline, or to us as local politicians.

“We are supposed to be working in partnership with the various strands of the health authority, and I think it is disgraceful that not only were we not informed, but there was no consultation. I believe the closure is done and dusted and will happen in six weeks time.”

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Cllr Chris White added: “The NHS in Hertfordshire is broken, and the CCG should be taken over by local goverment because we would do a better job than this mess.”

Cllr Robert Donald said the recent round of cuts had not been expected, and the health economy locally had been turned upside down by what was happening within the CCG. But he said HCT chief executive David Law was prepared to meet with councillors in the immediate future to discuss the crisis.

Councillors unanimously passed the motion.