Whalton Unit to relocate to Wansbeck General Hospital

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has made the following announcement:
‘In order to ensure that staffing is as resilient as possible for winter, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has announced that the Whalton Unit in Morpeth is to temporarily transfer to Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington.
The inpatient ward, which delivers specialist rehabilitation for frail older patients, will move to its new, interim, home in Ward 8 at Wansbeck hospital from Wednesday 19 December.The relocation – which will be reviewed next summer – is to ensure that there is adequate staffing to cope with the expected increase in demand over the winter months.In line with care of the elderly wards across the country, the Whalton Unit has faced significant recruitment issues for both nurses and doctors and the subsequent use of locum doctor and bank and agency nurse cover has made continuity of care challenging.Being based within Wansbeck General Hospital will enable more cross-cover and support across teams; making the workforce more resilient and flexible.

It will also make it easier for inpatients to access other hospital services such as diagnostic tests which currently involve them being transported; something which can be difficult for frail older patients.

Usage figures since April 2017 shows that only around half of patients staying at the Whalton Unit are from the Morpeth area. Almost 30 per cent live in areas which are equidistant to Wansbeck hospital with nearly one in five living closer to the new location.

The trust recognises that travel may be more difficult for some families and has arranged a transport solution for those disadvantaged by the new location. Anyone affected after the move is urged to discuss this with the ward team on 01670 529108.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We would like to reassure the local community that this much-valued service provided from the Whalton Unit will be transferred to Wansbeck General Hospital in full and we remain committed to providing the highest standards of care to our patients in the new, temporary, location.

“The multi-disciplinary team which are the cornerstone of this service and has vital links to follow-up care in the community will re-locate to ensure that patients requiring further rehabilitation in hospital are able to receive this without interruption.

“Winter is an extremely busy time for the NHS with increased numbers of frail older patients requiring admission and subsequent rehabilitation. For these reasons we must ensure that we have appropriate staffing in place where demand will be highest. Being able to draw on the wider staffing pool already in place at Wansbeck will aid our efforts to do this.

“We fully appreciate that people from the Morpeth area may find it difficult to travel to Wansbeck hospital to visit loved ones and we’d urge anyone with any issues to contact us on 01670 529108.”

Outpatient, diagnostic and community services provided at Morpeth NHS Centre are unaffected by the move.’

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