A rehabilitation ward at the DGH is set to close its doors today (Friday) as part of a measure to cut costs.
The announcement that the Polegate ward is to go has led to heavy criticism from the GMB which called for the closure to be halted.
The GMB is the union for NHS staff and its organiser Gary Palmer said, “What on earth does chief executive Darren Grayson think he’s playing at?
“Notification letters on the 11th October, meetings with staff on the 14th & 15th and the ward closed on the 18th October - a whole seven days from start to finish.
“Clearly the disastrous financial position of the hospital through Mr Grayson and his team’s mismanagement warrants actions, but how bad can it be that he needs to shut a front line medical service and ward without consultation with patients and their families, staff, GP’s and other services providers in just one week?”
One NHS worker questioned what was happening at the hospital, adding, “I have worked in the NHS for 25 years and have never seen a hospital so run down in such a short time.”
The news comes one month after the Herald reported that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHNT) was reviewing its use of bank and agency staff in a bid to cut costs after it emerged that its planned deficit already had a £5.1million shortfall.
MP Stephen Lloyd said he had written to Mr Grayson and was told if more beds were needed over winter that another ward would be opened and that staff from the Polegate Ward would be redeployed elsewhere in the hospital.
The ward has 32 beds and is for rehabilitation and patients who are delayed transfers of care.
A spokesman for ESHNT said, “We are looking to use our beds throughout the hospital more efficiently with reduced length of stay for patients so that they are able to return to their home quicker.
“Currently we have a large number of patients who are ready for discharge within the hospital, however for a variety of reasons they have not been able to go home. There is a focus on making sure that our patients care is being delivered in the right place and this is not always within an acute hospital environment.
“For this reason it means we no longer require all our bed space so a decision has been made to close Polegate ward.”
The spokesman said this process would help free up bed capacity for winter, adding, “As an organisation we are committed to making sure that patient safety and quality is maintained whilst addressing our financial situation. Making more efficient use of our bed capacity is part of this strategy, which also includes recruiting more nurses and therapists to reduce our reliance on agency staff.”