PLANS to reduce the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley will be
PLANS to reduce the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley will be the subject of a four–week public consultation, beginning on May 11.
The Henley Standard exclusively revealed last month that the total could be cut from 18 to around five.
The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group says that this would help improve services at the new £16million “health campus”.
Chief executive David Smith also argued the proposed cut did not represent “significant change”, so public consultation would not be necessary.
But Henley MP John Howell insisted there should be consultation and won the support of health minister Jeremy Hunt.
Now the commissioning group has accepted the MP’s argument following talks with Mr Howell, Yvonne Constance, chairwoman of Oxfordshire County Council’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee, and Henley town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith.
Mr Howell said: “I’m particularly glad that the commissioning group has accepted my version of events.
“They have accepted that it’s a significant change in the provision at the hospital and they will now have a consultation on it.
“What we need to do now is consult with the local GPs in order to get a professional medical view of what is in the best interests of the health of people in the Henley area.
“We also need to see organisations like Oxford Health, who are behind the reduction in beds, to explore what the realistic options are.”
The commissioning group wants more patients to receive care at home. It believes 18 beds would be too many and that they would rarely be full or used by people from the Henley area.
Instead, it wants to establish an emergency multi–disciplinary unit, an outreach from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, offering a range of day services.
Councillor Nimmo Smith said: “I welcome the consultation – it shows that the commissioning group has recognised the feelings of the people of Henley and surrounding villages who use Townlands Hospital.
“The proposal to remove the bedded facility from the hospital and rent step up/step down beds from the adjacent Chilterns End care home is a significant change which the users of the facility have a right to be consulted on.
“The outcome of the consultation will come before the county council’s health scrutiny committee on July 2.
“The commissioning group will have to come up with a fully fledged plan, rather than the outline plan seen so far, for their facilities in the whole building as gaps in their plans will generate more questions than answers.”
Ian Reissman, chairman of the Townlands Steering Group, said: “It’s always good that the community is involved in what happens to our hospital.
“To be honest, the problem isn’t so much the consultation, which was factored into most of our minds. The problem is what they’ll be able to present to the community on May 11 and the evidence they provide that it’s a better option than the one that was originally chosen, which included the provision of 18 beds.
“We want to see the hospital planned and developed in a way that gets the build done and in a way we’re happy with.”
The steering group has been invited by the commissioning group to have a representative on its Townlands committee, which will be developing the plans.
The first meeting of the group took place in Cowley on Tuesday.
Mr Smith said: “Given the changes proposed from the original plan for services at Townlands Hospital, we have agreed with the Oxfordshire joint health overview and scrutiny committee that we will undertake a one–month consultation with the local people of Henley.
“We hope to launch this after the general election on Monday, May 11.”