Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Campaigners condemn 10-month hospital delay

HEALTH campaigners say they are “extremely disappointed” at the delays in the opening of the rapid access care unit at Townlands Hospital in Henley.

HEALTH campaigners say they are “extremely disappointed” at the delays in the opening of the rapid access care unit at Townlands Hospital in Henley.

Last week, the Henley Standard revealed that the unit at the £10million hospital is now set to open in January, 10 months after the rest of the hospital was opened to patients.

The opening has been delayed because of the need to convert the first floor at the hospital, which was built according to the original plans with an 18-bed ward.

NHS Property Services, which owns the building, has said this work will begin this month.

The new unit will replace the 14 beds at the old hospital, alongside eight beds which are being provided at the neighbouring Orders of St John care home, which is due to open in November.

It will offer services such as antibiotic treatment and transfusions and will operate alongside a minor injuries unit, podiatry, outpatient services, physiotherapy and out-of-hours GP services at the hospital as well as the beds at the care home.

The Townlands Steering Group says it is pleased an opening date has been provided but criticised the repeated delays.

Town councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the group, said: “The steering group is keen to see the unit open and deliver the ambulatory care service we were promised in 2015, which is to replace the beds. We are extremely disappointed that the original plan to open in December 2015 is now over one year late but look forward to announcements that are clear and achievable.”

Cllr Reissmann said the steering group was still unhappy at a lack of engagement by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for services at the hospital.

He said he has been asking for information on issues such as the opening date of the hospital and care home, adult social care and the beds used for patients at the care unit for “some time” but had not received answers.

“The steering group continues to be dismayed by the apparent reluctance of the commissioning group and other NHS bodies to provide the information we would like about our services and our hospital,” said Cllr Reissmann.

“The commissioning group undertook in September 2015 to engage with the steering group and community. We encourage them to work with us in how our health and social care is to operate.”

He also criticised the decision not to name a ward at the care home after the old hospital’s Peppard ward.

Campaigners have called for the ward to be named the Peppard Wing.

But Sara Livadeas, strategy director for the Orders of St John, said the name “Bluebell” has been chosen by residents of Chilterns End care home in Greys Road who are due to move into the new building next month.

She said that Peppard meant “nothing” to the care home.

Cllr Reissmann said: “Although the community remains convinced that the Peppard ward beds are needed in the hospital as originally planned, losing the Peppard name simply adds insult to injury.”

He said that in an email last year, the commissioning group promised to recommend that the ward is called Peppard, although it conceded that the final decision would left to the Orders of St John.

Meanwhile, Roger Dickinson has been appointed permanent chairman of a scrutiny group for the new hospital.

Mr Dickinson, a lay member of the commissioning group, had been chairing the Townlands Stakeholder Reference Group on an interim basis since Corinne Yates stepped down from the post.

Ms Yates, the commissioning group’s head of strategic communications and engagement, resigned after campaigners branded the group “tokenistic” and said agendas for its meetings were set by the group itself.

The group originally met in private but later agreed to hold every other meeting in public following protests.

Cllr Reissmann stood for the role in July but was turned down because it was said he wasn’t independent.

* What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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