CAMPAIGNERS turned out in force to demand answers on the future of Southlands Hospital in Shoreham.
Members of Sussex Defend the NHS arrived with placards for the NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group meeting at the Steyning Centre last week.
During open questions, Dr Jacqui Woolcock asked if they felt they could support plans for a medical centre offering surgery, health and wellbeing, nursing training and a diagnostic centre.
“Do they feel they can encourage the trust to look on this proposal rather than having it turned into rubble?”
Dr Tim Kimber, clinical director, said: “I am aware of some of the developments you have talked about. I think it has to be said that we do already commission all of the services you mention and have provision elsewhere.”
He pointed out an NHS contract would be needed for such a centre, adding it was not their intention to award one this year.
“We have some big undertakings but none of this falls within the remit of the projects,” he said. “I have explained that to the doctors and they are fully aware.”
Heather Duffield from Shoreham asked about community hospitals and whether the group was looking to centralise services.
Dr Kimber confirmed: “We are certainly not looking to centralise services, in fact quite the opposite.
“Our big project this year is proactive care. The emphasis is on trying to care for people in their own homes.”
He explained that a community beds review, looing into the community bed stocks, was at a midway point across five sites.
“We want to streamline the use of the beds, which have previously been used in a somewhat chaotic fashion,” he added.
Steve Guy from Shoreham asked why they were not making more efforts to utilise the excellent position of Southlands.
“It has got perfect road links,” he said. “Western Sussex Foundation Trust has allowed the building to deteriorate but it is not beyond salvaging.
“You have the opportunity of being able to satisfy some of the aspirations of the people of Shoreham.”
Steven Pollock, chief of corporate affairs, said the trust had been open, transparent and clear about their plans for the site.
“It would not be for us to suggest to the trust what we thing they may or may not do with the Harness Block,” he added.
“What we do need to know is if they are open and transparent and I think we are confident that they are.”
Dr Kimber added: “To say it is a local asset used by local people is probably not correct.”
He pointed out the usage in the past had been only 25 per cent Adur residents, with 75 per cent from the rest of the coast.
He said they had looked at what was needed in terms of services, with buildings as a secondary thing.
“It is fair to say that the Harness Block is not a suitable building for the services we think are needed,” he added.
Comparing Arun to Adur, which are demographically similar, there are a large number of community beds in Arun that are vey well used, he said.
“In Adur, you have very, very good community services available locally, enabling people to be cared for in their own home and if you provide beds, you would take away the good that has been done.”
Marjorie Sams from Shoreham said there were no step-down beds in Shoreham and asked for a new consulation.
Public sector organisations have until tomorrow to submit a viable bid setting out the future use of the building and land.