NEARLY a third of the beds at Wycombe Hospital will close under plans for a major transfer of inpatient services to Stoke Mandeville.

Bucks health bosses say patients needing an overnight stay for medicine, respiratory, gastroenterology and diabetes services should no longer be treated in Wycombe. Elderly patients with long-term conditions are likely to be most affected.

This would bring the closure of 67 beds at the Queen Alexandra Road hospital, across at least four wards in the tower block.

The Emergency Medical Centre would seemingly be downgraded to reflect these changes - with urgent medical patients being directed to Stoke Mandeville or Wexham Park hospitals instead.

Wycombe Hospital would still cater for medical outpatients and remain a specialist centre for stroke and cardiology.

Its breast care unit will be enhanced under the plans, with a new assessment unit for elderly or frail patients to be developed.

This new assessment unit would aim to put care in place that enables more patients to be treated at home, while a ‘step down’ ward would provide care for elderly and medical patients no longer in the acute phase of their treatment.

The NHS plans, laid out in a consultation document called 'Better Healthcare in Buckinghamshire', would mean Wycombe Hospital sees about 7,600 fewer people per year - a reduction of about three per cent on its current activity.

The consultation document says: “The proposals will enable Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (which controls the county’s hospitals) to focus its medical and A&E expertise on a single site and provide a more specialist, better resourced, higher quality service overall.

“Instead of patients being seen and admitted by the on-call team (who in many cases will not be the ‘right’ team for their condition) patients will be seen by the appropriate team for their condition at a much earlier stage.

“These proposals will ensure that even with staffing resources which are becoming harder to recruit, we can still deliver higher quality care in a challenging financial environment.”

Most patients would go to the same hospital as they do currently, including for day cases, planned surgery and most outpatient appointments.

There will be several consultation meetings around the county in February. Read the full consultation document by clicking the link below.

The Bucks Free Press will publish further details about the meetings next week.