An elderly rehabilitation unit at Gossoms End Community Hospital could remain closed permanently if patients don’t speak up.
Last October, the unit in Victory Road, Berkhamsted, closed its doors in what the Hertfordshire Community Trust (HCT) and the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) billed as a ‘temporary measure’.
At the time, health bosses blamed a lack of staff and promised to work on recruitment, but now it is being proposed that 20-bed unit remains closed permanently.
Now the chiefs are consulting patients on the proposals until September 9, but have laid their cards on the table by admitting they would prefer to ‘continue as they are’.
A HCT spokesman said: “Last September, we informed colleagues at Herts Valleys CCG that we were unable to sustain safe staffing across the community beds in the west of the county, and needed to reduce the bed numbers so that staff could be redeployed.
“There were specific issues at Gossoms End with regard to staffing levels that indicated this was the unit that should be closed temporarily.”
As well as staffing issues, HCT says it became clear that Gossoms End offered more beds than were needed by the local community – meaning many patients came from further afield. Following the closure last year, the staff working at the unit were relocated to other community in‐patient units in west Hertfordshire.
The hospital’s other services, such as its GP surgery and asthma, diabetes and hypertension clinics, will not be affected.
After the closure, the CCG commissioned 16 additional beds at Willow Court in Harpenden to meet patients’ needs.
Talking about the new care model, a HCT spokesman said: “As a result of the ‘Your Care, Your Future’ review of health services in west Hertfordshire, we have embarked on developing a new model of out‐of‐acute hospital care for older people.
“Community beds would be made more flexible to meet needs and a model of at‐home care would make it easier for people to remain in their homes while at the same time receive effective and specialist services.”
Looking towards the future for Gossoms End, the site has been chosen as a potential ‘health hub’ for additional out‐of‐hospital services.
HCT, which owns the site, is committed to ensuring the elderly rehabilitation unit is used to provide NHS services for local peopl.
In the coming months, HCT says it will work with local healthcare providers and the CCG to come up with a new use for the in‐patient unit. They said: “We are interested in finding out what people think about these proposals.”
The consultation on Gossoms End is running until Friday, September 9.
You can take part in the online survey here, email your comments to heather.aylward@hertsvalleysccg, or write to Herts Valleys CCG, Hemel One, Boundary Way, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7YU.