Friday, 17 September 2021

Health chiefs to meet Townlands campaigners

HEALTH chiefs are to meet campaigners to negotiate the future of the new Townlands Hospital

HEALTH chiefs are to meet campaigners to negotiate the future of the new Townlands Hospital.

David Smith, chief executive of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and members of the Townlands Steering Group will meet later this month to discuss issues surrounding the new model of care at the £16million ?health campus?.

The meeting is being organised by Henley MP John Howell and will probably take place at the South Oxfordshire District Council offices in Didcot.

The steering group is calling for 18 beds to be installed at the new hospital as promised in the original plans.

The commissioning group wants to ?buy? five to eight beds from the care home to be built next door to the new hospital.

The rest would be replaced by a seven-day rapid access care unit offering services including antibiotic treatment and transfusions.

Last week, the commissioning group?s board endorsed the new model but deferred a final decision pending ?further engagement with stakeholders?.

Both sides are said to be keen to negotiate the key issues, including:

• The quality of nursing at the Orders of St John care home, including staffing numbers and qualifications.

• How the care home will operate, including whether beds will be situated in individual rooms.

• How the ambulatory model of home care will work.

• The transition period between the closure of the existing Peppard ward in December and the opening of the care home.

Mr Howell said: ?I?ve got David Smith to agree to a meeting to discuss the issues which have been raised. These are issues on which I have already asked for clarity.

?I want clarification on the level of medical provided in the beds. It comes down to whether the commissioning group is prepared to say what their preferred number is.

?I?ve asked that they take a month and say ?we have eight beds, how many more would we have bought in that month???

Mr Howell will also be meeting Philip Unwin, from the Hart Surgery, to discuss the potential of the Bell and Hart Surgeries moving to the vacant second floor of the hospital.

In a letter in this week?s Henley Standard, steering group chairman Ian Reissmann and Mayor Lorraine Hillier say they want to work with the commissioning group and that ?communication and dialogue is the only way to reach a mutually agreeable situation?.

They add that ?everyone needs to understand that it is not always possible to get everything desired? but Cllr Reissmann stressed that this didn?t mean giving up on the demand for 18 beds.

He said: ?The commissioning group itself has to be prepared to be flexible. There are 14 beds at the hospital at the moment and we want to make sure the service that replaces those is at least as good.

?We want to work with the commissioning group in running the rapid access care unit with beds and incrementally moving over to the new model.

?It?s far better for us to be involved and to try to help them because they have taken on board a lot of our concerns. We have always wanted to talk to the commissioning group but they have been reluctant until last Thursday. They have moved from pressing ahead regardless to now being willing to talk to us.?

Cllr Reissmann also praised Mr Howell for persuading the commissioning group to hold the public consultation on its plans and pressing for changes to the model, including expanding the rapid access care unit from three to seven days a week.

He said: ?The whole steering group is keen that everyone in the community works together as closely as possible. John is continuing to work with us.?

The Chilterns End care home in Greys Road, Henley, which is run by the Orders of St John, is due to move to the hospital. It has a capacity of 46 and is currently full but the number of beds will be increased to 64 following the move.

• An investigation into claims that the new hospital is in breach of planning rules is continuing. Case officer Robert Raysford, who is carrying out the probe on behalf of South Oxfordshire District Council, visited the site on Thursday last week. It?s believed that a member of the public has complained the new three-story building is taller than the height agreed when planning permission was granted in November 2012.

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