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£1m spent on unused Sussex hospital beds
Sussex health bosses are wasting £1 million a year on beds that are not being used.
Beds used by the NHS in East Sussex to assess patients with suspected dementia are being left empty almost half the time, with a growing number of people using community services instead.
A public consultation has been launched on the future of dementia services across East Sussex to address the issue.
Options put forward include cutting bed numbers, placing all beds at one site or closing them all and creating a new type of service across the county. The changes could save health bosses up to £2.4m a year.
The consultation says: “There is an increasing recognition across our communities that many people now and in the future will be affected by dementia.
"The stigma that has in the past been associated with this condition is also beginning to decline.
“There is good evidence that with earlier diagnosis, drug treatments can slow rates of deterioration, and plans can be made for support from health and social services to be provided in a timely and personalised way, preventing manageable situations turning into a crisis.
“For many years people have told us that they would prefer to receive appropriate care and treatment at home rather than being admitted to hospital or to a care home.”
The 34 beds are split between Uckfield Community Hospital and the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards.
There are estimated to be about 10,200 people with dementia in East Sussex and this is expected to rise to just under 14,000 by 2020.
Since October 2012, new memory assessment services have been put in place across the county.
These clinics are community-based, rather than based in specialist mental health services. There is also intensive home treatment and a wide range of therapies.
The consultation is being run by the three clinical commissioning groups covering East Sussex and responsible for ensuring health services are based in the right place. It ends on October 25.
For more details, visit www.eastbournehailshamandseafordccg.nhs.uk.
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