Patients are ‘like shuttlecocks’ amid delays surrounding hospital unit

Gossoms End Community Hospital, Berkhamsted
Gossoms End Community Hospital, Berkhamsted

A patients group has spoken out about the delay in a decision about reopening a hospital unit which closed ‘temporarily’ six months ago.

Dacorum Patients Group said they were ‘deeply suspicious’ about whether the elderly rehabilitation unit at Gossoms End Community Hospital in Berkhamsted would reopen as planned.

The unit, which is run by the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, was closed on what was billed as a ‘temporary basis’ in October last year after bosses cited the reason as overspending on agency staff.

But now, the halfway house unit – which cared for elderly patients who have been discharged from hospital – still remains closed and trust bosses say they are at the mercy of the Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which holds the purse strings in regards to local healthcare.

The CCG has remained tight-lipped over the plans, saying they hoped to be in a position to reveal plans ‘in the coming weeks’.

Margaret Morgan, from the Dacorum Patients Group, said: “We are deeply suspicious and would like to know, but once something is closed it rarely reopens does it?

“The group is depressed bythe muddle caused by different organisations running different bits of the service.

“There is no joined-up thinking and the patients are left like shuttlecocks on the middle of a badminton court.”

In a letter addressed to South West Herts MP David Gauke, the NHS Trust’s chief executive David Law said: “We are still awaiting a decision from the CCG about whether they wish to continue to commission the service at Gossoms End.

“Their decision is connected to a wider set of service changes that are happening in the area, with commissioning of a rapid response service and of more social care capacity.

“The question of what we would do with Gossoms End remains hypothetical.

“We are the owners of the building and I would want to see it used for other health and social care services if it were not used to provide intermediate care beds.

“We would need to recover the cost of the facility, so there is an imperative for it to be used.”