Campaigners working to stop cutbacks at Bassetlaw Hospital have been dealt a further “blow” after Trust chiefs announced the children’s ward will remain closed at night due to ongoing staff shortages.
NHS Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Group and Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals arrived at the recommendation following a period of review.
Ellen King, leader of the Parents Agaisnt Cuts Bassetlaw Children’s Ward campaign, said she was “disappointed” but “not surprised”.
“While this is clearly part of a wider, national crisis within the NHS, I firmly believe that solutions can be found by working together with larger hospitals to ensure that Bassetlaw Children’s Ward can fully reopen in the future,” said Ellen.
“While the news is a blow, the high number of children still needing to be transferred shows a clear need for a local children’s ward and the Trust, our MP, local councillors and we as a campaign group must continue to focus on how we can ensure the children’s ward can reopen fully and that there is no further loss of services at Bassetlaw Hospital.”
Since the closure, youngsters needing inpatient care have been transferred via private ambulance to Doncaster Infirmary at the cost of around £14,000 a month. On average the number of transfers have been “higher than expected”- around 12 youngsters a week.
Richard Parker, chief executive and former chief nurse of the Trust said: “Since January we have listened to the communities’ concerns about the overnight closure of Ward A3, and we have been working extremely hard in order to try and attract the staff necessary to re-open the ward overnight.
“Unfortunately, despite receiving some expressions of interest for positions when we have tried to recruit, the situation remains unimproved.
“The challenges we are facing in recruiting paediatric staff is part of a wider national picture.
“We have to be open and honest with our communities that this is no longer a temporary problem and together with the CCG we must take action to make permanent, stable arrangements, to ensure a quality, safe and consistent service, particularly as winter approaches.”
MP for Bassetlaw John Mann said he would be meeting with Trust chiefs to “fight the case” this week.
He said: “The additional distress and inconvenience this has caused is still not acceptable and I have supported the fight to re-open the ward.”