Thursday, 05 August 2021

’Bedless hospital will be cheaper’

THE new Townlands Hospital will save £10,000 per patient by not having any beds, say health

THE new Townlands Hospital will save £10,000 per patient by not having any beds, say health chiefs.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group also says it will treat six times as many patients each year.

But it has denied that the alternative services it proposes are a cost-cutting measure.

It wants to install a next-day rapid access care unit alongside up to 14 beds in the neighbouring care home.

Residents and councillors have campaigned for 18 beds to be installed in the new hospital, as promised in the original plans.

The commissioning group says the care unit, alongside a basic eight beds at the care home, would cost almost £500,000 less than an 18-bed ward and could treat more than 1,200 patients each year.

The group claims that an 18-bed ward without the care unit could manage fewer than 200 patients in the same period. A spokeswoman said: "Excluding the lease and estate costs, an 18-bed unit with no rapid access care unit would cost £2.2 million, providing care to 194 patients over a year at an average cost of £11,448 per patient. This figure is based on the data we have on Peppard ward bed usage and length of stay.

"The cost of the proposed new model of care at Townlands Hospital, which comprises a rapid access care unit and up to eight beds at the Orders of St John care home, is £1.75million.

"It is estimated that this model would provide care to 1,248 patients (four new patients each day from Monday to Saturday for 52 weeks a year) at an average cost of £1,402 per patient."

The current 14-bed Peppard Ward cost £1.73 million and treated an average of 151 patients per year between 2013 and 2015, at a cost of £11,456 per patient. Should the rapid access care unit be combined with an 18-bed ward, the hospital would be able to treat more than 1,400 patients per year, each at a cost of about £2,750. However, the model would cost just short of £4 million to install.

The spokeswoman said: "The new model of care is not about saving money. However, the commissioning group does have a responsibility to ensure it works within the financial envelope available and acts in the best interests of the Oxfordshire population it serves.

"Rather than reducing costs, this development will result in substantial increased expenditure in this part of Oxfordshire. The group will incur increased property lease and new equipment costs associated with the new premises."

Councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, said: "The new service will treat many more patients, which means that the cost per patient is reduced but the overall cost is about the same.

"These figures also exclude estate costs, which will increase, so the new model will cost more. The issues are not about costs. It’s about whether the change in the location of the beds will improve health outcomes for patients."

Cllr Reissmann added that the commissioning group was no longer prepared to discuss any beds in the new hospital itself.

"We felt our plan to install 18 beds alongside the rapid access care unit and then phase them out was a good one," he said. "We are disappointed that the commissioning group won’t entertain the idea of beds in the hospital. We are now left with a simple choice: to continue discussing their plans with them despite our misgivings or to engage in legal action to force them to stop."

• A public meeting will be held at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road on Monday at 7.30pm, where the steering group will talk about its meetings with the commissioning group and its options going forward.

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