Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Future of physiotherapy unit at new Townlands uncertain

THE future of the physiotherapy unit at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley is uncertain after the provider announced it will stop running the service in October.

The musculoskeletal physiotherapy service, which sees people with conditions affecting joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles, is currently provided by the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust but the contract is up for tender later this year and the trust was not chosen for the next stage.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is in charge of services at the new £10million hospital, says the trust will continue to run the unit for the next three months before a new provider takes over the service.

But it is unclear how the service will be affected by the replacement provider.

A spokeswoman said: “Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is currently recommissioning services for musculoskeletal services, which includes outpatient physiotherapy. A procurement process is ongoing.

“In the meantime, the service will continue until a new contract has been awarded to commence at the beginning of October.”

The hospital opened to patients in March last year and also has services including podiatry, orthopaedics and a minor injuries unit as well as dozens of clinics which were either expanded or introduced following the move from the old hospital.

The physiotherapy unit at Townlands has seven staff. The next closest physiotherapy services are in  Abingdon and Oxford.

A spokeswoman for Oxford Health said: “Musculoskeletal services are not closing.

“However, the service has been put out to tender by the commissioning group and Oxford Health has not been successful in that process.

“We will continue to offer musculoskeletal services at Townlands until a new provider takes over provision of the service, which is a decision that will be made by the commissioning group.

“Where there is a change in service provider employees would transfer to the new employer on existing terms and conditions as per normal legislation.”

Daisy Bayliss, 23, an events manager from Sonning Common, recently started a six-week treatment course at the physiotherapy unit for a hip problem.

She said the service was important as without it she would be forced to take time off work for her treatment. Miss Bayliss said: “I would have to drive all the way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

“I work in Marlow so it’s easy for me to drive 15 minutes to Henley but going to Oxford would take half a day.

“I’d have to take that off as holiday, which is just ridiculous. The other option is Abingdon, which is just as far. I can’t imagine what would happen if I was an elderly person as it would be even worse.

“There are people on my course from Wallingford and Watlington so it’s not just for Henley, it’s the surrounding towns too. It made me realise how useful the service is.”

The hospital was officially opened last month by the Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson OBE.

It includes a rapid access care unit which aims to see patients referred by GPs and other health providers on the same or next day, encouraging them to be treated without having to stay in a hospital bed.

For those who need to be admitted, there are up to 11 beds located in the neighbouring Chilterns Court care centre, seven for intermediate care and four for use by the unit.

Another three on-demand beds can be “spot-purchased” when they are needed but these may not be located in Henley, despite a pledge in 2015 that there would be eight beds in the care centre and another six on demand.

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