THE SAVE Southend NHS Campaign has learnt from separate senior hospital sources that staff at Southend ITU (Intensive Therapy Unit) have been told there is to be a loss of a significant number of critical care beds at the hospital.
Its press statement reads: ‘Currently, Southend has 14 beds across the ITU Intensive Care Unit and HDU (High Dependency Unit).
‘The Mid and South Essex (MSE) Hospital group have advised staff that as of early July, these critical care beds will be dramatically reduced at the hospital and staff will have to work at Basildon on rotation to man a new “super-Covid” ITU which will be housed in portacabins and will accommodate up to 26 Covid-positive patients in preparation for a second wave.
‘These plans were made without staff input and only now have they been asked to give their opinion on how to make this plan workable.
‘At the time of writing this release, we are advised that Southend ITU and HDU units are caring for only three Covid-19 patients but also for a further nine other non-Covid patients.
‘This demonstrates the absolute need for our hospital to keep the current number of critical care beds and that the proposal to reduce bed numbers would be dangerously inadequate for local needs of our population requiring intensive, lifesaving treatment.
‘Hospital downgrade “by stealth”: Staff will be required to work in the Basildon Covid-19 ITU on rotation. This has been done thus far without any formal staff consultation process.
‘As we already know, despite fighting to keep the acute stroke unit at Southend, that too is being moved to Basildon.
‘The STP plans to make Basildon the “super hospital” were shelved in 2017 following mass public pressure on elected representatives led by our campaign group and supported by the whole community and by numerous senior clinicians who spoke out about the likely loss of life if we lost our 24/7 Blue Light A&E.
‘Now we’ll be facing a fight again.’
A spokesperson for Save Southend NHS told News Line: ‘All NHS staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty during the Covid-19 crisis, none more so than the staff who look after our most critically unwell loved ones in the Intensive Care Unit.
‘Staff have been working long and emotionally and physically arduous shifts in full Personal Protective Equipment and their dedication, expertise and commitment to saving lives and affording patients and their relatives care and dignity, is second to none.
‘Shamefully, the recently merged Mid and South Essex Hospital group are using the cover of the Covid-19 crisis to further these unpopular and unsafe changes at Southend Hospital, sneaking them in through the back door. This is a cynical and outrageous abuse of public trust in our NHS by the STP senior management team.
‘We are not going to stand by now and let our local NHS services be devastated nor put the lives at risk of our most critically ill patients who will be forced to endure longer and more dangerous ambulance transfers to another hospital in order to receive the same care they currently get at Southend.’