Angry scenes at meeting to discuss proposed Ilkeston Hospital cuts

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A protester confronted health chiefs and accused them of “fobbing off” the public over plans to cut beds at Ilkeston Community Hospital.

During a meeting of the Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning trust board, in Ilkeston, one member of the public took issue with what he thought was a lack of willingness from health chiefs to answer questions.

The CCG’s chairman, Dr Avi Bhatia, said that questions sent to the CCG would be answered within two weeks and that the meeting was not a public one – but was simply being held in full view of the public.

Ilkeston resident Des Ball has become the face of the fight against hospital bed cuts in the town.

He interrupted today’s meeting despite repeatedly being told that questions submitted by hospital campaigners would not be answered today.

Ilkeston campaigners are opposing plans to reduce the number of beds at the town’s community hospital from 24 to 16.

This follows a reduction from the 32 beds the hospital had over the winter and despite promises that beds would not be reduced.

Hospital beds would be replaced with increases in community nursing beds and care in people’s own homes as part of the proposals.

Dozens of protesters rallied outside today’s meeting but only around six could attend due to the size of the room it was being hosted in, at Tollbar House.

Mr Ball said in today’s meeting: “I have no doubt at all that you all mean well but this is not in our best interests, this will not save lives.

“There has been a lot of talk today about assurances, but how can any of us believe what you are saying when you promise things and then go back on them.

“There is a complete lack of consultation here, surely we should be involved in the process at some point?

“You are all public servants and we are the public, we would like to ask questions and we are being fobbed off.

“It is very frustrating.”

Dr Bhatia agreed that it must be frustrating to attend a meeting and not be allowed to ask questions but that procedure dictates questions can be submitted but the public cannot speak at the CCG’s meetings.

He reiterated that all questions would be answered within two weeks.

Dr Chris Clayton, chief executive of the CCG, said during the meeting that the organisation had been doing “increasingly well with engagement” in the past year.

In response, members of the public present at the meeting said “wow” and “what a joke”.

Last month, the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed that health chiefs had considered cutting beds at Ilkeston Community Hospital last winter, shortly after saying at a public meeting that no such plans were in place.

Health chiefs say that Erewash currently does not have bed capacity in the right areas, with a need to focus on less extreme areas than hospital care.

As a result, the CCG intends to open up eight more beds in a nursing home – Florence Shipley, in Heanor, outside of Erewash in the neighbouring borough of Amber Valley.

This would take the number of care home beds to 11.

Meanwhile, supported care at home would be increased from 27 “slots” to 37.

There is one remaining public drop-in session to be held at Charnos Hall on the Ilkeston hospital site on Monday, August 12 from 2pm to 6pm.