'Evesham Community Hospital is not at risk of closure' - Health chiefs insist - The Evesham Observer

'Evesham Community Hospital is not at risk of closure' - Health chiefs insist

Joshua Godfrey 27th Jun, 2017 Updated: 28th Jun, 2017   0

HEALTH chiefs have insisted Evesham Community Hospital is ‘not at risk of closure’ after campaigners raised concerns about potential cuts to community bed numbers.

Their comments follow a public meeting which took place at Evesham Town Hall last night, organised by a cross-party campaign group, where the the Sustainability and Transformation Plan proposed for Worcestershire was discussed.

The plan sets out a five-year vision for health services in the county, which includes changes to community hospital services.

More than 100 people attended the meeting to find out more about the STP and to raise concerns about the number of beds at the hospital which could be reduced as part of the plan.

There was also anger from meeting organisers and those who attended after representatives for the STP failed to turn up.

A spokesman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said representatives were due to talk about the STP process and questions residents may have, but claimed they pulled out due to the meeting becoming ‘politically fueled.’

Michael Worrall, who chaired the meeting, said: “The purpose of the meeting was to receive a presentation from Worcestershire Health & Care NHS Trust about their Sustainability and Transformation Plan.

“We had booked the hall at our own expense and advertised the meeting in the local press and radio as well as producing flyers, which we had distributed. Last Friday the STP pulled out, leaving us high and dry.

“I asked our Secretary, David Haslam, to read out the email correspondence from the STP team with their reasons for withdrawing at the last minute. I then asked our cross party panel to comment briefly on the situation before opening the discussion to the audience, who by this time numbered nearly 100.

“I apologised to the people that had shown up about the no show of the promised STP presentation and said that I would understand if anyone wanted to leave. Nobody left. We had a lively detailed discussion, which lasted for about an hour. I was asked to write to the STP team to express the anger and frustration of the meeting.

“After everyone had a chance to speak, I asked the panel to sum up and, after a show of hands, the will of the meeting was reluctantly for a small group to go ahead with the closed meeting the STP team had offered, but to insist on them returning to Evesham to present their proposals to a Public Meeting.

“I read out a statement explaining that there were no plans to close Evesham Hospital and the plan to reduce the number of beds referred to a 5 year period across the whole of the County and confirmed that the STP saw Community Hospitals, like ours, as a crucial link in their process.”

Following the meeting, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, a key stakeholder in the STP, have moved to reassure residents Evesham’s community hospital will not be closing.

A spokesman for the trust said: “Evesham Community Hospital is not at risk of closure.

“It is really valued by the local community and by the Health and Care Trust which runs it, and it is an important part of the future of how we will provide local services.

“It is home to the county’s specialist stroke rehabilitation ward which has only recently opened and in line with our strategy for all our community hospitals, we see the site doing more of the kinds of outpatient or day case activity which might traditionally have been provided from a larger acute hospital.

“In order to maintain resilient services within the hospital we need the best staff possible, and we are concerned about the effect any inaccurate claims or suggestions that the hospital is at risk could have on our ability to retain and recruit skilled staff.

The STP also includes plans to reduce the number of beds at community hospitals across the county, including Evesham, but health chiefs added this is part of shift to treat more patients at home.

“Any reductions in community bed numbers would be predicated on the work we are doing now to improve those services which support people out of hospital,” the spokesman added.

“All local health and care organisations are working together to develop what we are calling ‘Local Neighbourhood Teams’, which will be made of district nurses, social care staff, GPs, and others who are typically needed to support more vulnerable patients who may have multiple health conditions.

“These staff will, for the first time, come together to work as one single team and will be tasked with providing more responsive and proactive care to those identified patients in their own homes. This should keep them well at home for longer and if admission to a community bed is required, should reduce their length of stay. This is what patients and the public have consistently told us they want.

“If we get this right we would expect over time the demand for community beds to reduce, and if demand comes down we would then look at the numbers of beds to see if reductions are appropriate.

“Any reductions in community bed numbers would only be possible once we have established the local neighbourhood teams and could clearly see demand for the beds coming down.”

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