PUBLIC consultation on plans for the new Townlands Hospital in Henley was “adequate”, according to a
PUBLIC consultation on plans for the new Townlands Hospital in Henley was “adequate”, according to a watchdog.
The Oxfordshire joint health overview and scrutiny committee made the ruling after hearing protests about plans to reduce the number of beds at the new hospital from 18 to just five.
The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group wants to replace the beds with a next-day rapid access care unit, open three days a week, which it says would allow more patients to be cared for at home.
The group carried out the five-week consultation, which ended on June 15, and presented its initial findings to the committee last week.
Chief executive David Smith said: “We felt there needed to be a change and we wanted to consult on the new model of care.
“There are thousands of people who currently have to go to Reading or Oxford for treatment and we can’t do all that in the building if we use the space for beds.
“This is a state-of-the-art building going up in Henley and we have got the opportunity to do something different. Beds will be provided in Henley on the same site, literally a stone’s throw away.
“We haven’t sorted everything out yet but we have been very open with people. We have tried to work through the issue and we can’t put in place a model where patients are at risk.”
Dr Andrew Burnett, a Sonning Common GP and member of the commissioning group, said: “These plans mean outpatient services will be dramatically increased. Bed-based care will still be needed and we have done some modelling on the RG4, RG8 and RG9 postcodes which shows that five to eight beds is the right amount.
“The beds will provide nursed care for patients, some will be step-up and some step-down. The model originally proposed had too many beds.” Peter McGrane, clinical director of Oxfordshire Health, said the rapid access care unit would provide ambulatory care which had been successful in Abingdon and Witney.
He said: “This is not something wrong with the care, it’s looking forward to future needs.
“There’s also a growing body of clinical evidence that patients do not do well in a hospital environment. The ability to rehabilitate and improve increases dramatically in a home environment. Home-based care is radically different to what it was even three of four years ago so we need to capitalise on that.”
Henley town councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, said it believed the consultation had been flawed and to implement the plans would lead to “significant risk”.
“We urge the commissioning group to retain the original plan,” he said. “There has been no formal confirmation that the care home is happy to provide beds and no information on the level of care in those beds.
“GPs do not appear to support the proposals and the heads of the two surgeries in Henley have spoken out very clearly that the 18 beds should go in. There was no question about whether people believe the beds are necessary and the [commissiong group’s] questionnaire asked leading questions that made it impossible to oppose the plans.”
Kevin Bulmer, a Goring parish councillor, said: “We are all very aware that you can get the outcome you want if you word the question carefully. People in my area have some concerns.”
Councillor Laura Price said the commissioning group had “failed to bring the community along”.
Councillor Yvonne Constance, who chairs the committee, said: “Our job today is to note the report on the consultation and I think we will say the consultation has been adequate.”