Friends try to keep clinic at Worthing Hospital as move looms

Tom Chapman and retired nurse Lydia Sobrido are trying to save the lymphoedema clinic at Worthing Hospital
Tom Chapman and retired nurse Lydia Sobrido are trying to save the lymphoedema clinic at Worthing Hospital

A hospital clinic which helped thousands of patients may be moving – and supporters are rallying to stop this amid fears it could affect care.

The lymphoedema clinic at Worthing Hospital has been running under various guises for 25 years, but now NHS bosses are looking to move it into the community.

The legs of a patient born with lymphoedema

The legs of a patient born with lymphoedema

Lydia Sobrido, the nurse who founded the clinic, and Tom Chapman, whose wife was a patient, have joined forces to persuade managers to let it stay there.

She said: “This is a medieval condition that has no room in the 21st century. The clinic is the essence of the NHS by educating patients.”

Lymphoedema is a long-term condition which causes swelling in the body’s tissues.

It is due to the lymphatic system, which removes excess fluid in the body, not working and can lead to serious infections.

The lymphoedema service was co-founded by Lydia in 1992 as part of the cancer unit, as lymphoedema can be caused by cancer and its treatments. In 1998 the service became its own clinic, treating and educating non-cancer patients too.

The now-retired nurse said she had to cut off people’s wedding rings because their condition was so severe.

Tom Chapman’s wife Brenda set up a patient support group in 2002, which ran until her death from motor neurone disease in 2008. He is campaigning for the clinic that helped his wife so much: “She was a force to be reckoned with, and if she was here she would be fighting still.”

Marie Dodd, chief operating officer for a local branch of the NHS, said the Worthing clinic would be moved into the community as part of a merger with the Chichester lymphoedema service. She said: “There will continue to be clinics in Worthing and in Chichester, and by forming into a single community service, there will be a consistent level of support for patients.”

To join the campaign, write to the hospital’s chief executive Marianne Griffiths at Worthing Hospital, Lyndhurst Road, Worthing, BN11 2DH.

Marie Dodd, chief operating officer for a local branch of the NHS, said the Worthing clinic would be moved into the community as part of a merger with the Chichester lymphoedema service.

She said: “There will continue to be clinics in Worthing and in Chichester, and by forming into a single community service, there will be a consistent level of support for patients across Coastal West Sussex, one referral route for GPs and patients, and investment to increase the level of care the service can provide.

“Patients using the new service will be able to access specialist nursing advice, assessment and treatment, and there will be expert support to help people to manage their condition.”

To join the campaign, write to the hospital’s chief executive Marianne Griffiths at Worthing Hospital, Lyndhurst Road, Worthing, BN11 2DH. If you have used the clinic and want to speak to us about it, contact us using the details above.