PUBLIC consultation on plans to reduce the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in
PUBLIC consultation on plans to reduce the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley is expected to begin on Monday.
The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group wants to reduce the total from 18 to about five and to encourage more care of patients at home.
It says this will allow for improved services at the new £16million “health campus”.
The five-week consultation will run until June 15 and results will be published by July 1.
A group spokeswoman said: “We are developing a new model of care to be provided at Townlands Community Hospital and will be asking people to give their views and help us to shape our plans.
“The commissioning group plans to launch the consultation early next week. We will be attending a range of patient and community meetings, launching a questionnaire online and circulating the questionnaire via community groups and networks to gather the views of patients, the public and our stakeholders.
“There will also be an opportunity for people to attend an event on May 21 at Phyllis Court Club to hear from and talk to the clinicians who have been developing the proposal.
“Following the consultation, we will be carefully analysing and considering all the feedback received and will report on our next steps in July.”
The group’s chief executive David Smith had argued that no public consultation on the proposed cut in beds was necessary as it did not represent a “significant change”.
But he had to change his mind after Henley MP John Howell disagreed and won the support of health minister Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Howell told the Henley Standard: “There’s a big job for them to convince the people of Henley of their intentions for Townlands Hospital.
“They are going to have to set this out very, very clearly in order to take the people of Henley with them and convince them that this is the right strategy for Townlands Hospital.”
The commissioning group 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 multiâ??disciplinary unit, an outreach from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, offering a range of day services.
The group says: “The model of services in the 2012 business case was based on the type of service provision that fitted with the way healthcare was organised and delivered at that time.
“Since then many things have changed, not least that nationally and locally we aim to work as a health and social care system.
“We are working together to transform services to deliver more care in local communities which helps to avoid admission to acute hospitals, except where necessary, keeping the time in hospital as short as possible.
“There is a growing body of clinical evidence, both nationally and internationally, which has supported the view of clinicians that frail, elderly patients often do not benefit from hospitalisation and may be better served by meeting their needs in their own homes.”
Meanwhile a campaign could be launched against the proposed cut in beds. The idea was put forward by town councillor Stefan Gawrysiak at an election hustings event last week.
Councillor Gawrysiak, who is chairman of Henley Residents’ Group, said that his party had fought to keep Townlands open when it was under threat in 2005.
He said: “I actually feel there may well be a new campaign coming on. It won’t be ‘Save Townlands Hospital’ it will be ‘Save Townlands Hospital beds’.
“The commissioning group is thinking of actually reducing the 18 beds. That should not happen. This is a hospital which is going to serve the community of Henley and is forecast to serve 90,000 people in the locality.”
He welcomed the range of services which would be provided but said: “I can’t believe with 90,000 people there isn’t the need for 18 beds.”
David Smewing, a former mayor and a member of the Townlands Steering Group, said he was “very cynical” and did not trust the commissioning group. He said: “I believe it’s a question of ‘we believe we can save some money and nobody will notice’.”
Town councillor David Silvester, of the Oxfordshire Independent Party, said: “I share David Smewing’s misgivings on this. Currently at Townlands you’ll find 18 beds and you’ll find most of them are full. How is it that in a year or two’s time these people aren’t going to be there?
“It does seem to be a very odd situation. If it is down to the method of treatment why haven’t they done it already?”
Ian Reissmann, an HRG councillor who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, said: “We can’t campaign against something we haven’t seen.
“Uncertainty is never a good thing and it’s very important that we get the situation resolved and it doesn’t drag on, but the most important thing is to make sure the health needs are met.”
Several members of the steering group and Mr Howell have met Oxford Health chief executive Stuart Bell and Libby Furness, from the commissioning group.
Cllr Reissmann said: “There’s a fair chance that their proposals will be sustainable and deliverable.”
The event at Phyllis Court Club will run from 6pm until 9pm. If you would like to attend, call Julia Stackhouse on (01865) 334638 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The consultation documents will be available shortly at https://consult.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/consult.ti/Townlands/consultationHome