PATIENTS at St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle were told to go home or be moved to another hospital as it closed for the bank holiday weekend.
The specialist orthopaedic and breast surgery centre shut on Saturday for four days, while many patients were recovering from major surgery.
Those well enough to go home were discharged, while others were transferred to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Truro or other units.
Staff were told to take annual leave or work at one of the other hospitals.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) said the closure was “part of the normal bank holiday plan” which had been in place for several years, but stunned patients claimed the move put extra stress and strain on staff and those recovering from surgery.
One woman told the West Briton: “I’ve just had major surgery on my leg and just like 15(ish) other patients, we’re being shipped to Treliske – which we’ve already been told is bursting at the seams – because this hospital is closing to save money over the bank holiday.
“We’ve all had big, painful intrusive surgery on the ward I’m in and none of the patients or people working on or visiting are happy with this rubbish decision that has been forced upon us all.
“The NHS should be ashamed, putting more stress and discomfort on patients when we should be getting rest, relaxation, care and time to get better. I am not the only patient to feel let down by the NHS over this mess.”
At St Michael’s on Saturday the last few patients were waiting for transport to Treliske or for friends or relatives to take them home.
Staff said they were not allowed to speak to the media, but one said there had been a similar situation at Christmas, raising concerns about the future of the hospital.
The RCHT spokeswoman said: “This is all part of our normal bank holiday plan.
“As we don’t have emergency surgery and we only do planned surgery at St Michael’s, we’ve been doing this for a long, long time.”
“We’ve never done elective surgery over the bank holiday weekend anyway because we know we’re always busy with emergency cases,” she said.
“When we’re focusing on the emergency care, consultant cover would be focused on the main hospital, so moving patients is as much about patient safety as anything. Usually they’d try to plan the surgery during a bank holiday week so most patients are able to go home before the weekend.”
Andrew George MP said the bank holiday closures should be monitored in the light of allegations that the hospital was not being fully used.
“I’m not surprised by it,” he said, “but I’d be worried if this were becoming a pattern, because it would be a ratcheting- down of the service itself.
“If there’s a need for the service I would hope, and I’m sure, it’s in the RCHT’s interest to get as many patients through as possible, and that means using the hospital to its maximum potential.”
Howard Hollingsbee, chairman of the Friend of St Michael’s Hospital, said he was aware it had closed at Christmas but not that the RCHT had decided to close it on other bank holidays.
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