Fears over ‘no beds’ at New QE2 as row erupts

PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 December 2012

The latest architect's image of what the New QE2 Hospital will look like

The latest architect's image of what the New QE2 Hospital will look like

Archant

WELWYN Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has issued a stark warning to NHS bosses – “don’t go back on your word over the provision of intermediate care beds at WGC’s planned New QE2 Hospital”.

His no-holds-barred attack follows news that land allocated for the beds could, instead, be allocated for housing.

But in a statement released to the Welwyn Hatfield Times this week, the PCT stressed it remained committed to providing beds on-site.

Mr Shapps said that following the General Election an Outline Agreement was signed by the Primary Care Trust – responsible for commissioning the new unit – the East and North Herts NHS Trust – which runs the current hospital and Lister in Stevenage – and himself which included the wording, “The New QE2 will contain local intermediate care beds”.

Mr Shapps said: “It was clearly agreed beds were an integral part of the new build QE2 Hospital.

“The Primary Care Trust later told the community it wanted to build the care bed unit separately on the campus and, although suspicious of its motives, we reluctantly agreed.

“Now it wants to entirely break that agreement too and that’s plainly unacceptable.”

The MP went on to describe the behaviour of health bosses as “deceitful and fundamentally wrong” and pledged to fight to maintain intermediate care beds at the New QE2 Hospital campus.

The MP raised the alarm following an email received from the head of the Primary Care Trust, Jane Halpin, which “casually explains” there was now a specific risk that care beds may never be built, with the land allocated potentially being promoted for housing.

Mr Shapps said: “Ever since the last Government did the dirty on us having pledged a super-hospital in Hatfield which never materialised, our QE2 Hospital has been under threat.

“However, back in 2010 a clear agreement was reached and provision of intermediate care beds wasn’t just a nice optional extra, it was absolutely integral to that signed agreement.

“Local health bosses seem to be confused if they think they can casually toss this pledge aside. They cannot.

“When your loved one is recovering from surgery you want them close by and that’s why having beds at our hospital site is absolutely vital.”

Mr Shapps is now seeking a meeting with the Secretary of State for Health to discuss situation.

In her statement Dr Halpin said: “The PCT is committed to providing beds on the site of the New QE2 Hospital.

“We have publicly stated that on many occasions in recent years.

“Plans for the hospital include space for the provision of beds for assessment and observation that will support the local A&E.

“The site plan also includes an independent care home facility adjacent to the hospital. This will have beds, including intermediate care beds, that can be used overnight and for longer stays.

“These services help provide people with the additional support they may need to stop their health getting worse and to prevent them from being admitted to a major hospital.

“The services can also help patients who no longer need specialist medical treatment, but who need some support with rehabilitation to help them return home.

“Recent early testing of the market (to identify possible providers of the care home and intermediate care bed service) was undertaken. We received some interest [but], this was not as extensive as we had hoped.

“We intend to re-run the process and expect that progress on site development will generate increased interest.”

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