Sussex hospital's temporary closure sparks concern - 'Residents will be rightly worried'
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust told Sussex World: “Patient safety is our absolute priority and we must ensure that every patient in our care can receive the best possible service safely.
“Following leaks from the water tank at Zachary Merton Hospital, which has affected the ceiling structure, and further issues that have been identified such as with the heating system, it is not safe to continue to provide care there at the current time and so a decision has been made to temporarily close Zachary Merton Hospital.
“All patients being cared for in the intermediate care unit have been relocated so that we can continue to provide safe care in a suitable environment. We are working with patients, relatives and their clinical teams to ensure that they are fully supported during this time.”
Councillors have shared the community’s outrage after the closure was announced. Pressure is being put on the NHS to ‘make a cast iron commitment to reopening’ the hospital.
Alison Cooper, county councillor for Rustington & district councillor for Rustington East, said: “The hospital holds a very special place in the local community, and there will be protests if it doesn't reopen.
"The NHS need to think about the demographics of the local area and the need for a community hospital in Rustington. Of course the safety of staff and patients is paramount, but we need the Zachary Merton to reopen as soon as possible."
Shaun Gunner, Conservative leader of Arun District Council and district councillor for Rustington East, said: “We need the NHS to commit right now to reopening the Zachary Merton, which in their statement they have not done.
"Residents in Rustington will be rightly worried this could be sold off for flats as the building isn't listed and Arun District Council haven't protected the building as an asset of community value."
The hospital has a long history in Rustington – having been built in 1937 as a convalescent home.
From 1939 to 1979 it had the role of a maternity hospital but it now serves as a community health facility, helping people – mostly older adults –with their rehabilitation before returning home.
Local councillors were informed, last Wednesday (November 29) – that the hospital would be closed by Friday (December 1) due to flooding.
A spokesperson for Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust said: “As part of our ongoing winter preparations, we are also working with our teams to build additional capacity within the community so that we can care for even more patients in their homes.”
Zachary Merton Hospital will remain temporarily closed for the foreseeable future while the estates infrastructure is ‘thoroughly assessed and any necessary repair works take place’.