Fresh concern over future of Van Geest unit

The entrance to the John van Geest Ward off Uffington Road'Photo: SM110811-087js
The entrance to the John van Geest Ward off Uffington Road'Photo: SM110811-087js
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THE future of Stamford Hospital’s only in-patient ward is in doubt after bosses admitted they did not know if it would stay open permanently.

The John Van Geest unit reopened on Tuesday after the number of patients admitted to Peterborough City Hospital was higher than average.

The ward was closed for a £97,000 refurbishment in August after four patients contracted a superbug.

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Trust said at the time the closure would be only temporary. But now it says a decision has not been made on whether to keep the unit open beyond the busy winter period.

Trust interim chief operating officer Clive Walsh said: “Medical bed capacity at Peterborough City Hospital was reduced as a result of higher than average emergency admissions over the Christmas period.

“As part of the trust’s winter pressures escalation plan, John Van Geest ward has been reopened to assist with capacity.

“The ward has reopened with 14 beds and this will be reviewed on a daily basis.”

Before refurbishment the ward comprised 24 beds. This has now gone down to a maximum 22.

In December the trust suggested the ward would stay open beyond the winter period.

General manager of emergency, critical care and medicine Cara Charles Barks said: “The refurbishment work on the John Van Geest ward at Stamford Hospital has been ongoing since August. The work was essential to ensure that the ward met national infection control criteria.

“Once the ward reopens, the model of care will focus upon care of the elderly, patients waiting for additional community support and will also offer rehabilitation.”

Stamford residents have felt the loss of the ward during the winter.

Corinna Hoptroff’s mother Audrey Kitson, who has lived in Stamford for 89 years, has been in Peterborough City Hospital since the beginning of December and now requires the kind of rehabilitation offered by the unit.

Corinna, of Conduit Road, said: “I am very pleased to see the unit open but I am concerned that the management is unsure of the future for Van Geest.

“What recovering people need is a small, quiet and loving atmosphere near to their relatives. This especially applies to the elderly.

“This is an extremely important unit for the people of Stamford. They closed Hurst ward and that just leaves us with Peterborough City Hospital, which is not Stamford and is a long way away for a lot of people.”

Mrs Hoptroff’s mother is still waiting to be transferred to Stamford Hospital.

Stamford town councillor Harrish Bisnauthsing (LibDem) urged the trust to keep the ward open.

He said: “We should keep the ward open because it provides a very valuable service, especially for our elderly.

“It will also help out Peterborough City Hospital which has a very limited capacity. We need it here in Stamford.

Mike Dronfield, of the Friends of Stamford Hospital, said: “The ward is an essential part of what Stamford Hospital has to offer.

“We would be very strongly supportive of keeping the ward open throughout the year.”

Stamford town councillor Maureen Jalili (LibDem) added: “It is good news that the ward is open and I hope it will stay open because it is vital not only for Stamford patients but those from the surrounding villages as well.

“I hope the plans for the ward are long-term.”

Town councillor Jean Bevan (Con), who sits on the Stamford Hospital Development Advisory Committee, said: “I have no reason to think that it won’t stay open. When it was shut they certainly felt it at Peterborough City Hospital.

“The ward is so much more appropriate for elderly patients. I can’t see why they would spend that money and not make use of it. We are all really behind Stamford Hospital.”

THESE are press releases put out by Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Trust. The Mercury thought readers would like to see exactly what it has said about the John Van Geest Unit.

The release on August 5 was headlined “Temporary ward closure at Stamford Hospital”, the December 1 as “John Van Geest ward” and the January 4 as “John Van Geest ward reopens”

August 5, 2011

The John Van Geest ward at Stamford Hospital is to temporarily close for refurbishment work.

The ward is currently closed to new admissions following an outbreak of C-difficile among 4 patients.

Rowena Barnes, chief operating officer for Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The infection control cleaning process has highlighted the need for some refurbishment work to take place to ensure we continue to adhere to the national guidelines around infection control.

“We will need to temporarily close the ward to undertake this work. We are assessing those patients currently on the ward to determine their date of discharge and we aim to close the ward once these patients are discharged. We will be assessing the extent of work required next week.

“There is no risk to the patients being treated on John Van Geest ward.”

Patients who would usually be cared for on the John Van Geest ward will, in the interim, be cared for at Peterborough City Hospital instead. Staff from John Van Geest will also temporarily transfer to Peterborough City Hospital.

Ms Barnes added: “Stamford Hospital staff are actively involved in the refurbishment programme so that we can ensure the unit continues to meets the needs of the patients cared for there.”

The Trust anticipates the refurbishment works could take between three to six months to complete.

December 1, 2011

Cara Charles Barks, General Manager of Emergency, Critical Care and Medicine at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

“The refurbishment work on the John Van Geest (JVG) ward at Stamford Hospital has been ongoing since August. The work was essential to ensure that the ward met national infection control criteria.

“As in previous years the ward features in the Trust’s winter escalation plan. Winter always poses some challenges to hospitals in relation to the unpredictable increase in patient attendances and admissions. As such the exact date of opening JVG will be dependent upon patient activity and has not yet been fixed. Although the ward will be ready to reopen from Monday December 5, if required.

“Once the ward reopens, the model of care will focus upon care of the elderly, patients waiting for additional community support and will also offer rehabilitation.”

January 4, 2012

Trust interim chief operating officer Clive Walsh said: “The John Van Geest ward at Stamford Hospital reopened on Tuesday January 3.

“Medical bed capacity at Peterborough City Hospital was reduced as a result of higher than average emergency admissions over the Christmas period. As part of the Trust’s winter pressures escalation plan, John Van Geest ward has been reopened to assist with capacity.

“The ward has reopened with 14 beds and this will be reviewed on a daily basis.”