Friday, 17 September 2021

Patients promised ‘best care possible’

HEALTH chiefs have defended their plans to reduce the number of beds at the new Townlands

HEALTH chiefs have defended their plans to reduce the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley.

They say that a minimum of five beds will be needed, compared with the 18 originally proposed, but that the total could be increased to meet additional demand.

This week, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group began a five-week public consultation on a new model of care at Townlands which would see a range of day services.

It insists the proposals are not about saving money but are designed to give patients the “best possible health outcomes within the funds available.”

The group’s consultation document says: “Because the aim of our proposal is to meet people’s healthcare needs in or close to home, a smaller number of beds will be needed over time than the 14 general rehabilitation beds that are currently provided in Peppard ward.

“We anticipate that a minimum of five beds would be needed within the new care home being built by the Orders of St John on the Townlands site.

“However, we would ensure that there is enough flexibility in this arrangement should there be any increases in demand.”

The group is proposing to set up a “rapid access care unit”, led by a clinician (a consultant or GP) working with range of health and social care professionals including community nurses, physiotherapy and occupational therapy practitioners, social care staff, mental health staff and hospital teams.

The service would offer next day, one-stop diagnostics and treatments and deliver care such as blood transfusions or administering antibiotics. This means patients would be seen, assessed and treated on the same day.

After being discharged from hospital, patients would be treated at home or closer to where they live, avoiding the need to travel to Oxford or Reading.

An “integrated locality team” would support patients after they have been discharged.

David Smith, chief executive of the commissioning group, said: “At the heart of the changes are proposals for the delivery of good quality care close to home, which may include diagnosis, observation, treatment and rehabilitation.

“This type of care is known as ‘ambulatory care’ as it is not provided in the traditional bed-based hospital environment.

“Within Oxfordshire the shift towards ambulatory care has already been made with the introduction of the emergency multidisciplinary units in Abingdon and Witney.”

The group has discussed it plans with NHS service providers, GPs and the Townlands Steering Group.

The document says: “The proposal is based on working in close partnership with clinical colleagues at Oxford Health, the Royal Berkshire Hospital and local clinicians in general practice, who are equally excited at the opportunity to deliver care closer to patients’ homes, supported by a range of integrated health and social care services.

“There is no doubt that there will be a need for some in-patient care in whatever model we agree as the needs of some patients will dictate that they cannot safely be looked after in their own homes despite their wish for this to happen.

“We will need to carefully consider how we might deliver this and the proposal outlines a partnership between the hospital teams and the Orders of St John as the most attractive option. The term used is ‘step up and step down care’.”

The document says the second floor of the new hospital currently being built will not be needed. This was originally going to be used by Sue Ryder to replace its hospice in Nettlebed but the charity pulled out.

The document says: “We are looking at all the options to maximise this space for health-related services.”

Henley MP John Howell said: “We need to look carefully at the thinking behind this consultation. The big thing is we need to make sure that social care is up to scratch to provide the ambulatory care that we think we need.”

Ian Reissmann, chairman of the Townlands Steering Group, urged people to take part in the consultation and to read the document.

He said. “It is very important we take our time doing this and make a fully informed response. I urge everyone to do the same â?? we must not rush to judgement.

“A key consideration is the way in which the move is managed from the old model of care, based around beds, to the new model with much increased care at home.

“It is vital that the new model is at least as good and is provided safely and with dignity. This transition plan is still emerging but must be robust. TSG members will be paying special attention to this.”

The consultation will run until June 15. For more information, visit

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