Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Townlands beds protest not widespread says MP

JOHN HOWELL says the new Townlands Memorial Hospital had “enormous” support from outside the town despite protests at the decision not to have beds there.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, the Henley MP said the hospital was a model for how others should be built with ambulatory care that allowed more patients to be treated at home rather than in hospital beds.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group originally promised to install 18 beds at the new hospital but reversed the decision in favour of five beds at the neighbouring Chilterns Court care home.

This led to widespread protests, including the Henley Standard’s Save Our Beds campaign and a march through the town in 2015.

As a result, the commissioning group agreed to have up to 11 beds in the home, which have been at near full occupancy since it opened in November.

Mr Howell told MPs: “Ambulatory care requires a full integration of social care activities and medical activities in an area because it turns the hospital into an extremely efficient medical campus-type facility with very few people needing to stay in overnight.

“In fact, if people stay in overnight, the effects on them are quite horrendous. Anyone over the age of 60 who stays in for four or five days is immediately incontinent.

“The great thing about the hospital was not the consultation initiated by the commissioning group but the support that I got from the Royal College of Physicians, which came out very strongly in favour of an ambulatory healthcare model and very favourably in support of the hospital.”

Mr Howell, who chairs a group of Oxfordshire MPs who meet to discuss issues with the commissioning group about every six weeks, said its public consultation on the new hospital had “left a lot to be desired”.

He said: “As a former professional in the area of consultation, I looked with some disdain at what was taking place but I appreciate that the commissioning group had a particular difficulty in seeing the hospital as Henley’s or South Oxfordshire’s, which they deliberately intended it to become.

“In the villages outside Henley that make up the largest proportion of people in south Oxfordshire, there was enormous support for the proposals. It was only in Henley that people took the opportunity to complain about the lack of beds.

“The fact is that, apart from some minor snags with the new hospital, it is a fantastic new investment by the Department of Health.

“It shows the way a community hospital should be developed, not just in Oxfordshire but across the country.”

He said the county had been one of the worst performers for delayed discharges, which is when patients are unable to leave hospital despite being medically fit to do so, but was now becoming one of the best.

⚫ Dr Kiren Collison, a GP in Witney, has been appointed clinical chairwoman for the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group following a vote involving the 70 GPs practices in the county.

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