THE League of Friends of Bexhill Hospital should “feel truly proud” of what it has achieved for local patients says Vanessa Harris, director of finance for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.
The finance director was guest speaker at the league’s annual meeting on Wednesday.
League treasurer Chris Ashford had reported that thanks to generous legacies the committee had been able to agree to bids to the value of £366,018 last year as against the previous year’s £54,437 when difficulty in obtaining bids from the healthcare trust had restricted spending.
The largest item of expenditure had been £180,000 to equip the hospital’s new age-related wet macular degeneration unit.
The director of finance said that during the year, the stroke service had been centralised at Eastbourne.
Six more step-down beds had been installed in the Irvine Unit. Speaking to stroke patients during a visit to the unit she had found them pleased with their treatment.
In December, emergency and high-risk general surgery had been centralised at the Conquest Hospital. Putting specialists and nurses in one place was proving efficient.
Community nursing staff were being issued with electronic devices. From May 13 these would be used to record patients’ notes, eliminating the need to return to base and making the notes available to health visitors and GPs.
New devices enabled hospital nurses to record pulse, temperature and blood pressure
electronically. The devices also gave warning of when these checks needed repeating and
helped ensure a safer hospital experience. High-dependency units had even more sophisticated technology.
The Trust had ended the year with a £23.1m deficit as against the predicted £19.4m. It hadn’t achieved the cost-savings it had expected. Nevertheless, it had achieved a 5% reduction.
Technology was making the Trust more efficient.
The Director of Finance said: “We are in a really difficult time in public services. There is a lot of tough measures going through. We really do need to drive efficiency and productivity wherever we can.
We have a growing population and an older population who are going to need these services. Against that background you can imagine we have to make some tough choices as a trust board and organisation.
“We can only afford to replace things which are absolutely obsolete or no longer fit for purpose and that places us in a difficult position.
“This is where you are able to help us. It is very pleasing to see staff come here and make their requests to you. They are not always granted because you have to make your own decisions. They are always delighted to come and ask. You have just heard about the wonderful things you have achieved this year and we are extremely grateful to you.”
Bexhill Hospital had been opened in 1933 because the people of Bexhill had raised the money for it in an age before the NHS. Since 1952 the League had been supporting the hospital.
She added: “I hope you feel truly proud of what you have done.”
League chairman Stuart Earl said the charity was in a strong position and full of enthusiasm. It was disappointing on occasion that it was not possible to achieve all that was wished at a time of national economy difficulty.
Those who worked in business were used to making decisions and seeing results. He realised that the NHS did not work in the same way. The League would like to see a minor injuries unit in Bexhill and was prepared to support its establishment. However, he was critical of the fact that the Commissioning Group, which controlled funding, had taken until February 25 to respond to the League’s December proposition, had promised a response within 10 working days and in reply to further prompting had said on March 11 that they would be discussing it.
“We are now at the end of April and we have heard nothing.”
He understood the responsibilities of decision-making on behalf of such a large population but such delay was frustrating.
The League was grateful to the many people whose generosity enabled it to improve the healthcare offered to local people. But the League’s membership was falling and he appealed to supporters to try and recruit new members.
Deputy Town Mayor Cllr Brian Kentfield said he had never stopped being amazed about how much money the League managed to raise or how many projects it supported. He wished the League success in boosting its membership at a time when many town organisations were struggling. He wished the League well for the future and looked forward to opening the June 14 garden party.