The Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (MSEFT) in the UK is considering a proposal to shut down the 150-year-old St Peter’s Hospital in Maldon.
St Peter’s Hospital, which is a former Victorian workhouse building, currently houses 16 stroke rehabilitation beds, a birthing unit, and outpatient services.
In August 2023, MSEFT first shared its plans to work together with local stakeholders and the public to submit proposals for St Peter’s Hospital’s future.
At that time, NHS Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board (ICS) announced temporary changes, including the transfer of 16 stroke rehabilitation beds to Brentwood Community Hospital, which was effected in October 2023.
The Trust’s board has now approved a pre-consultation business case (PCBC) on 16 January for the future configuration of community inpatient beds, midwife-led birthing and ambulatory services at St Peter’s site.
Under the latest proposal, St Peter’s Hospital’s birthing unit, which sees about six births per month, would be moved to a unit adjacent to Braintree Community Hospital.
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The report highlights that alternative locations for the birthing unit are “limited,” but Braintree offers “a more resilient service less prone to closure due to staff shortages.”
Plans are also on for a sale of the hospital. The PCBC states that the current net book value for St Peter’s within MSEFT’s Statement of Financial Position is around £6.2m ($7.8m).
Besides, the proposal talks about establishing a new ‘maternity outpatient hub’ in Maldon, which is necessary for post-natal care and ultrasound scanning. The report has not specified a particular site for this hub.
The Trust is also exploring options for relocating 129 beds designated for recuperation or intermediate care, including stroke rehabilitation.
This redistribution plan would increase the total bed count to 138 across five remaining community hospitals, with Brentwood Community Hospital, which is located 35km from Maldon, expected to receive an additional 25 beds.
Approval of the PCBC would follow an eight-week public consultation period, which is proposed to start on 25 January and conclude on 21 March 2024.
According to a BBC report, this relocation would require expectant parents to travel an additional 26km to reach Braintree or 24km to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, a point of concern for protesters.
The Trust has also proposed to put St Peter’s Hospital, which is a former Victorian workhouse building, for sale at £6.2m.