A HOSPITAL earmarked for closure next year has slashed the number of beds available to vulnerable elderly patients in the community.
NHS Lothian plan to reduce vital space at Liberton Hospital which specialises in geriatric medicine from the current 91 beds to 78 by the end of May – then cut the number to 60 patients from July 2017.
The current plans are to change the function of Liberton from being a post-acute hospital to an intermediate care facility operation by the Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board - a partnership for health and social care.
It will remain as a care facility until April 2018 at the earliest but the NHS Lothian-owned building may be sold as it occupies ‘prime land’.
The decision towards closing the facility was made as part of the health board’s strategic plan in 2013.
Liberton along with the Astley Ainslie and Corstorphine Hospitals was cited for closure with NHS Lothian struggling to provide care in the ageing buildings. Unison said they have already begun the process of redeploying staff to other sites throughout the region.
Unison branch chair, Tom Waterson, said: “The patients who are currently in Liberton Hospital would be better cared for at home. However, the concern of Unison is that Edinburgh City Council don’t yet have the facilities to do this.
“While we support the direction of travel with regards to the closing of Liberton Hospital we want to see a proper health and social care set-up rolled out to patient’s homes. There was talk of Liberton being a healthcare village at some point but it’s possible it will be sold as it’s prime land. The plan is to close it and we’re currently transferring staff through a redeployment policy which has a no detriment clause and a no compulsory redundancies clause meaning staff won’t lose any money – they’ll just be redeployed within NHS Lothian.”
Miles Briggs, Lothian Tory MSP, said: “A number of constituents have expressed concern to me about the future of Liberton Hospital and I therefore raised their issues with NHS Lothian. Constituents have told me that they consider Liberton Hospital is an important facility which provides valuable rehabilitative care for many patients, especially the elderly. While I understand NHS Lothian’s desire to move services into the community, constituents want assurances that high quality and appropriate alternative services will be established in the community before any decision is taken to remove all beds from Liberton Hospital after April 2018.”
Jim Crombie, Deputy Chief Exec, NHS Lothian said: “We are focusing on providing alternatives to a stay in an acute hospital for our frail elderly patients and, if a hospital stay is required, timely discharge with support in the community to prevent readmission. We expect the development of new models of care and increases in social care capacity will mean we aim to be in a position to close Liberton Hospital next year.”