The NHS trust in charge of Haywards Heath’s Princess Royal has no plans to ‘downscale’ the hospital.
Patients requiring stroke services have been temporarily diverted to Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) since February due to staff shortages.
A report by Central Sussex Stroke Programme Board explains that the preferred option for Brighton and Sussex University NHS Hospitals Trust (BSUH), which runs both hospitals, would be have one single stroke unit in Brighton.
The proposals were discussed by the West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Committee on Friday September 2.
Amanda Jupp (Con, Billingshurst) asked why the option of a stroke unit at Haywards Heath and not Brighton had not been considered, and added: “Do you want to run down Princess Royal Hospital and leave us with an even wider gap?”
This was echoed by Peter Evans (Con, East Preston and Ferring), who said that while being a ‘firm believer’ in centres of excellence and one major centre was the way forward, he suggested that the Government’s aim was to reduce the number of hospitals and ‘Princess Royal Hospital could be on that list in the future’.
But Oliver Phillips, service strategy director at BSUH, said: “There’s no intention and no plans to downscale Princess Royal Hospital.
“We are desperately in need of capacity as a hospital and need to sweat the assets we have got at Princess Royal Hospital. There will be no beds closed.”
The committee were told that no final decision had been made and proposed changes would still need to go through Public Health analysis and wider public engagement before being implemented.
Stroke units are also based at Worthing Hospital, St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, and East Surrey Hospital in Redhill.
Bryan Turner (Con, Broadwater), chair of HASC, said that progress had been made in the last three years with stroke services, while Peter Griffiths (Con, Hurstpierpoint and Bolney) explained how he had been admitted to RSCH recently after suffering a minor stroke.
He was struck by how positive the staff were and described the ‘amazing level of care’ he received.
It was explained that only a small number of patients would have to be diverted from Princess Royal to Brighton, and the maximum extra time would be 35 minutes but most of the journeys would be much shorter.
Although BSUH had been rated ‘inadequate’ after a Care Quality Commission inspection earlier this year, its stroke services were singled out for praise.
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