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EIGHT beds are to be closed at Ilkeston Community Hospital as part of ‘improvements’ being made by Derbyshire Community Health services – leaving staff fearing for their future after workers contacted the Advertiser saying they were being forced to re-apply for their jobs as part of the changes.

One staff member, who did not want to be named, said: “The local community need to know about this because it will have an impact on them.

“People in Ilkeston value the hospital but now there will be less beds meaning local people will be on wards in Derby or Nottingham.

“We’ve been told we’ll have to re-apply for our jobs now that there won’t be as many patients so no need for as many staff.”

But health bosses said that no redundancies would be made and that they were in talks with staff about adjusting their roles as the closure of the beds aims to lead to a rise in caring for patients in the community.

Dr Paul Weston Smith from Littlewick Medical Centre, a surgery with strong links to the hospital, warned that changes would need to be made to the way patients are cared for after a stay on the ward if the move is to be successful.

“I have to say I’m a little uncertain about the move, it requires good overall management if it is to be effective,” he said.

Dr Weston Smith also said it was clear the move was linked to cost cutting and admitted he had some concerns.

“We understand the logic behind the decision and accept that there is a need for efficiency and we know that across Derbyshire there is a surplus of beds but Ilkeston Hospital is still very busy,” he added.

“As GPs we’re very keen to continue our involvement with the community hospital, it is a very useful resource for our patients.”

Chair of the hospital’s League of Friends, Mike Perry, told the Advertiser the group were disappointed with the news but vowed they would support staff and continue their work at the Heanor Road hospital.

“We will continue to do what we can and if we need to, we’ll increase what we do to help minimise impact,” he said.

“We’re already putting together a group to form a flying squad to help the hospital in any way we can and we’ll of course carry on with everything we do already including fundraising and supporting patients.”

Derbyshire Community Hospitals Services have said the decision to close the beds is a positive one and is down to more patients being treated in their own homes and the length of time patients need to be spend on wards being shortened.

William Jones, Director of Service Delivery for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust said: “Over the past couple of years we have been working hard to improve the experience of the patients coming into community hospitals across Derbyshire.

“By putting the patients at the centre of our care, and as a result of a lot of hard work by our staff, we have managed to ensure that patients only remain in hospital for the length of time they require and are then supported to return to their own homes as soon as possible.

“All the evidence shows that this improves the chances of an even better recovery. This has meant that across Derbyshire on a daily basis we have spare capacity within our current bed numbers.”