Saturday, 22 September 2018

Dissent at Townlands Hospital public meeting

REDUCING the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley will mean more services can be provided, say health chiefs

REDUCING the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley will mean more services can be provided, say health chiefs.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is considering having just five beds at the new £16 million ?health campus? rather than the 18 originally planned, as exclusively revealed by the Henley Standard last week.

Members confirmed the move at a public meeting on Thursday last week where residents protested by waving copies of the paper.

Deputy Mayor Jeni Wood and former mayor Ken Arlett both attacked the plan, although it was supported by Henley GPs.

Dr Andrew Burnett, a senior partner at Sonning Common Health Centre and the south-east locality director for the commissioning group, said: ?We are proposing to provide local services for local people.

?These services will provide good local care in this area, services that are so good they could get people coming from Caversham, Twyford and Wargrave to use them.

?Healthcare is changing ? a hernia used to take a week in hospital but now it is just a day. They barely even touch a bed.

?We want more GP assessment before going to hospitals. In a lot of cases in Henley that would be better. It is something we are doing more and more of across Oxfordshire. We want broad services but for that we have to get it right in terms of beds.

?We are looking to find ways to make people stay at home. Old people want to stay in their own home. The longer people stay at home the longer they are doing things for themselves.?

Mr Arlett responded: ?What you are saying is indefensible. Walk down Peppard Ward and you will see how many people you can send home from their beds. It is an absolute disgrace what you have had to say.?

Councillor Wood said the Chilterns End care home was full and added: ?It is absolutely disgusting cutting the beds for those who can?t afford private care.?

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said Towlands served 90,000 people and added: ?I can?t believe there is not a need for 18 beds to serve those people.?

John Jackson, director of adult social services at Oxfordshire County Council, said there was a 53 per cent increase in the amount of home care in Henley and he expected it to go up by as much as 10 per cent over the next year.

Peppard Parish Council chairman Barry Wood, a member of the Townlands Steering Group, stressed the need for a transition plan from the current bed-based care to care focused on helping people stay at home.

?I am not sure you will be able to do that in six months, a year or even two years,? he said.

Dr Philip Unwin, from the Hart surgery, said: ?I understand Oxford Health have to make the number of beds economical.

?All the proposals make sense but we do need some beds in Townlands and some people will need those beds for a long time.?

Dr Chris Langley, from the Bell surgery, said: ?I am excited about the new services in Townlands. There will be more people who benefit from the services. Beds are important and hopefully there is some way to keep them but the new services are very important.?

Henley MP John Howell said there should be public consultation on any reduction in the number beds.

But David Smith, chief executive of the commissioning group, said: ?I believe we do not have to go to public consultation unless the health overview scrutiny committee says this is a ?significant change?.

?If we choose to ignore the committee we are open to judicial review, which is expensive. Consultation will last at least three months and that will cause a delay in building the hospital.?

The new hospital is scheduled to be ready next year.

The original plans included an 18-bed hospital with inpatient, outpatient, ambulatory care, X-ray, podiatry, physiotherapy and dentistry services. Sue Ryder had initially agreed to put a 12-bed hospice on the third floor of the hospital but pulled out in December.

The Chilterns End care home, which is run by the Orders of St John, still plans to relocate from Greys Road.

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