MP attacks health chiefs' plans to slash community hospital bed numbers - The Evesham Observer

MP attacks health chiefs' plans to slash community hospital bed numbers

Joshua Godfrey 13th Jan, 2017 Updated: 13th Jan, 2017   0

PERSHORE’S MP Harriett Baldwin has attacked health chiefs’ plans to slash the number of community hospital beds in the county by 44 per cent.

The MP has criticised Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust’s proposals in the wake of figures revealed through a Freedom of Information request, submitted by Mrs Baldwin, which showed beds at Pershore Community Hospital are in high demand.

Draft plans in the trust’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan for the next five years proposes reducing the number of beds at community hospitals in Worcestershire from 324 to 182.

But data revealed through the FoI has found that between April and October last year beds were filled for an average of 95.1 per cent of the time at Pershore’s hospital, peaking at 98.3 per cent.

In the wake of beds data, Mrs Baldwin has called on health chiefs to rethink their proposals and said now ‘cannot be the time’ to reduce the number of beds whilst Worcestershire Royal is in crisis.

“The figures speak for themselves and it is clear that there is strong demand for beds at our precious community hospitals,” Mrs Baldwin said.

“Community hospitals offer vital palliative care for patients as well as providing a bed closer to home for those who are recovering from a serious illness or injury.

“With the NHS Acute Trust under such serious pressure for beds at the moment, now cannot be the time to be talking about reducing the capacity at our community hospitals.

“We should be using community hospitals more, not less, and I hope that the people who are leading the STP draft plan will take a long look at these numbers and rethink their strategy. I will also be asking for more occupancy data.

The West Worcestershire MP’s call for a rethink comes in a week which has seen Worcestershire Royal struggle to cope with demand, leading Mrs Baldwin to urge residents only to attend A&E if they have a serious problem.

“I realise A&E departments were under enormous pressure, particularly over the New Year,” she added,

“Clearly we need to find a way to manage these pressures that enables patients to be treated with greater dignity.

Health chiefs have defended the proposals by claiming investing more in treating patients at home will reduce the need for beds at community hospitals in the future.

A spokesman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: “Working with partners we will be strengthening our community nursing services to provide more joined up, responsive care and treatment in people’s homes.

“We will be developing local community teams made up of nurses, therapists, social workers and GPs who will work closely with frail patients to keep them well at home for longer. If we get this right then that would reduce the number of avoidable hospital admissions which could, over time, lead to a reduction in the demand for some community hospital beds, so any future changes to community hospitals should be viewed within the context of improvements to these services.

“We see a bright future for our community hospitals, including providing more of the activities and treatments which may traditionally have been provided in an acute hospital. While their roles may change, they remain a key part of our long-term strategy.”

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