Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Townlands decision delayed for beds rethink

Updated: A final decision on the future of Townlands hospital has been delayed.

A final decision on the future of Townlands hospital has been delayed.

At a meeting in Banbury today (Thursday), health chiefs voted to defer the decision on which model should be used at the new hospital pending "further engagement with stakeholders".

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group wants to install a next-day rapid access care unit which will offer services including antibiotic treatment and transfusions, as well as five to eight beds in the neighbouring Orders of St John care home.

But campaigners say there should be 18 beds at the hospital, as promised in the original plans.

At the meeting, the commissioning group's board endorsed the current model but asked for more information on transition plans, staffing, clinical engagement and provision of beds.

Town councillor David Nimmo Smith and Mayor Lorraine Hillier both spoke at the meeting but no questions were allowed from the public gallery to allow board members more time to discuss the plans.

Instead, questions which were emailed to the board ahead of the meeting will be answered within 20 working days.

The board was meeting to consider the results of a public consultation on the plans and was asked to consider three options:

? To go ahead with the planned model.

? To reject this model and revert to the original plans.

? To delay a final decision on the future of the hospital for at least two months.

Cllr Nimmo Smith, vice-chairman of the Townlands Steering Group, proposed a fourth option: to install 18 beds which would remain until the rapid access care unit had been running successfully for two years without the beds being fully occupied.

Members of the board said the model was a "new direction" and that home-based care would be better for patients than staying in hospital.

But they promised to come back to the next meeting with detailed transitional plan for the time between when the new hospital is built and the old one demolished, as well as full financial details of the proposals.

They rejected the steering group's proposal, saying running the care unit with 18 beds could cost up to twice as much.

David Smith, chief executive of the commissioning group, said: "We should use a different model of care instead of the 18 beds. It's incorrect for people to say there are no beds, we have an absolute commitment to provide beds on the same site."

Dr Andrew Burnett, Sonning Common GP and board member, added: "The new model will offer a extensive range of services. One of the beauties of this proposal is that the number of beds will be flexible, there will be more or less depending on the need."

All but one of the board members voted to defer the decision. Julie Anderson abstained from the vote.

After the meeting, Cllr Hillier said: "I'm disappointed with the decision. I don't feel they are listening to us, I'm pleased that the rapid access care unit will be open seven days a week but it doesn't solve the problem.

"We are going to a new model that we have no experience of. They are putting lives at risk."

The steering group plans to meet with the commissioning group before the next board meeting in September.

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