A ward at Portsmouth's superhospital where patients spend their last days is to close.
The G5 ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, provides care to patients over 65 who are nearing the end of their lives. It has been described as a 'lovely environment' by hospital officials and the 'perfect place for palliative care' by relatives and staff.
But Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has announced it will close in September, following a review of services provided by its medicine for older people department.
Chris Ash, general manager of the department, said: 'G5 is a lovely ward. But there are positive and negative aspects to the G5 model.
'It's a small, 14-bed ward, and is not a tremendously efficient way to provide care.
'Only 25 per cent of people over 65 who need palliative care are accessing G5 for various reasons. Sometimes it's because the ward is full and so patients can't always be transferred there. Sometimes the patient needs specialist care and so needs to stay on an acute ward.'
When the ward closes the staff will instead form a special palliative care team which will work throughout the hospital, helping with patients who need end of life care. They will also be teaching the rest of the staff how to provide palliative care.
Mr Ash said: 'This means staff across all wards will be able to deal with patients who need palliative care.
'We want every patient who's nearing the end of their life to get the care that people on G5 get.'
The News reported in March that the ward was under threat of closure. Staff said they were devastated.
But Mr Ash said: 'While the team are very sad about the loss of the facility, they're looking forward to sharing their skills across the rest of the wards.'
The hospital trust has said the closure is not about money saving. But relatives have disagreed and criticised the decision.
Nicola Brown's father John Gillings, who had terminal bladder cancer, spent time on G5 earlier this year. She said: 'I'm really sad to hear it's closing. I think it's tragic. I just don't believe you can give palliative care on a normal ward. I think patients will go quicker.
'It's got to be something to do with money.'
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