Saturday, 31 July 2021

Campaigners ‘hopeful’ of hospital beds deal

CAMPAIGNERS calling for 18 beds to be installed at the new Townlands Hospital say they are

CAMPAIGNERS calling for 18 beds to be installed at the new Townlands Hospital say they are “hopeful” that a deal is close to being reached.

The Townlands Steering Group wants health chiefs to stick to the original plans for the £16million “health campus”.

Instead, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group wants to install five to eight beds at the neighbouring Orders of St John Care Home, with the rest being replaced by a next-day rapid access care unit.

Last week, the Henley Standard revealed that the commissioning group was prepared to offer up to 14 beds by leasing more from the 64-bed care home on demand.

A final decision on the model of care was deferred at a meeting of the commissioning group’s board in July, while the board also rejected the steering group’s calls for 18 beds to be installed and then phased out over a two-year period.

The two groups, along with other stakeholders, attended a meeting last month chaired by Henley MP John Howell and agreed to continue negotiating.

Councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the steering group, said: “We are in detailed discussions with the commissioning group.

“It wants to implement its model when the hospital opens and we want the original beds put in at least for a transitional period. That’s where we started off and now we are trying to narrow the gap.

“We were very disappointed that the commissioning group board rejected our proposal to implement the new model much more slowly in order to ensure that the assessment of needs was correct and the new model had the necessary supporting resources available.

“Since then we have re-established communication and have been engaged in extensive discussions to clarify and resolve community concerns about the commissioning group’s plans and the timescale, which means that the new model needs to be up and running by December 8.

“The steering group recognises and welcomes the commitment shown by the commissioning group in providing information to our working groups over the last two weeks and responding to questions in great length and detail.

“We wish to remain engaged with the commissioning group in order to help them develop their proposals for the rapid access care unit safely.

“We also wish to work with the Oxfordshire joint health overview and scrutiny committee to scrutinise and monitor the services delivered after December 8 to ensure that the health needs of those in the Townlands catchment area are being met.”

A public meeting of the steering group was scheduled to take place Monday but has been postponed while the discussions continue.

Cllr Reissmann said the meeting would be held before the comissioning group’s next board meeting on September 24.

He said: “We are trying to fix the date for a final meeting with the commissioning group which will take place very soon. Then we can hold a public meeting to report back to the community on what will go to the commissioning group’s board and what our options are for responding to that.

“Talking is always good and I’m hopeful that we are close to a decision.”

Mr Howell said: “The commissioning group has made a number of concessions, including the rapid care access unit being open seven days a week for 12 hours a day and six days’ worth of outpatient clinics.

“They are also clear on the level of medical help that’s available. They have confirmed that the number of beds in the care home could be up to 14.

“Oxford Health has committed to providing patient transport during the transition period from Henley to Wallingford.

“I think there’s a lot to base future negotiations on and the steering group wants another meeting to discuss ambulatory care.

“As far as I’m aware other issues are being discussed positively but there’s some disagreement about the transition, which is something they are discussing.”

Meanwhile, amended plans for the hospital development have been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council for planning permission by the developer Amber Solutions for Care.

The changes include moving parking underground to increase the green space on the site as well as combining the two assisted living blocks into one.

The amendments were proposed following a review by architect Nick Baker.

The council will make a decision in December.

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