Concern as number of inpatient beds slashed at Sunderland’s new Eye Infirmary
By Martin Haswell
Inpatient beds at the new Sunderland Eye Infirmary will fall from 22 to just 8.
NHS chiefs on Wearside have admitted that plans to relocate the city's Eye Infirmary from its current site on Queen Alexandra Road to a new building on the Vaux site in the city centre will see a big reduction in the number of inpatient beds.
The current site has 22 inpatient beds, but this will be reduced to just 8 at the new purpose-built site in the city centre. There will also be 10 outpatient beds.
The NHS confirmed that they have required up to 10 beds in the recent past, prompting fears that with fewer beds at the new facility some operations could have to be cancelled if the Infirmary is operating at full capacity.
The news was uncovered after Liberal Democrat councillors on the city's Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee quizzed representatives from the local NHS Trust about the plans this week.
Commenting, Lib Dem Councillor Martin Haswell - who uncovered the news when questioning NHS Trust chiefs - said:
"The plans for a new purpose-built Eye Infirmary in the city centre are to be welcomed, but the NHS and Council bosses need to make clear to residents that this is going to see a reduction in capacity.
"Liberal Democrats are also calling for fair parking charges at the proposed car park nearby - and to make sure there is a 'to the door' bus services to save visually impaired people having to navigate the city centre from park lane to get to an appointment at the new site on the riverside.
"Only 1 of the 5 public consultation events about moving the Infirmary are being held after 5pm when a lot of people finish work, so I'm also calling on NHS chiefs to make sure that they are doing enough to make sure all patients and residents across the city can have their say on what the move will mean for services at the new hospital."
Grindon and Thorney Close councillor Margaret Crosby added:
"The dedicated staff at the Eye Infirmary do an outstanding job. I'll always be grateful to them for saving my mother's vision after she suffered a bleed in her eye. I'm therefore very concerned to see that there could be a reduction in service and capacity offered to the people of Sunderland and the North East under these plans."