Fears for hospital as ward shuts

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ONE of the two wards at Hay Lodge Hospital in Peebles will close by the end of August, writes Andrew Keddie.

And affected staff, including trained nurses, have been told they will have to reapply for jobs, according to Councillor Catriona Bhatia (Tweeddale East).

“Beds are being taken out of the ward and there are genuine concerns it will not reopen, and that the hospital itself is now on borrowed time,” said Mrs Bhatia.

Late last year NHS Borders announced plans for the 12-bed ward to be transformed into an innovative “health hub”, comprising day facilities, GP consulting rooms and also accommodating social workers and psychiatric and community nurses.

A public meeting regarding the proposals in January heard the project would “shift the balance of care to support people to remain in their own homes as long as possible”.

Hay Lodge was described as “heavily bed-dependent” and the intiative was hailed as a more effective use of resources. But, with the board of NHS Borders not due to discuss funding for the hub until next week, the decision has been taken to close the ward.

A spokesman for NHS Borders said yesterday: “We remain committed to doing everything we can to make the hub a reality.

“However, taking this forward will require an investment in the region of £600,000 which is intended to support a shift in the balance of care from hospital to community-based services.

“We will be seeking support at the forthcoming board meeting [in Selkirk on June 30] to progress these proposals and additional financial investment of £200,000 to initiate the project.”

Mrs Bhatia said she was dismayed the decision to close the ward had been taken ahead of next week’s meeting.

“Given the impact of these changes on SBC’s social work services, I would have expected some consultation before this happened,” she added.