Derbyshire NHS bosses have confirmed proposals to cut the number of beds at Ilkeston Community Hospital, prompting an accusation that Erewash MP Maggie Throup has failed to keep her promise on the issue.
The board of NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) met on Thursday, June 6, to consider the case for cutting capacity from 24 beds to 16-18.
The CCG, which announced plans to cut £69.5million from its budget in April, will formally launch a period of public engagement on the proposals later this month, with a final decision due in September.
Medical director Dr Steve Lloyd said: “Clinically making these adjustments to the kind of care offered is definitely the right thing for patients.
“I can understand any talk about changing bed numbers at a local hospital may sound concerning but as we found in the north of the county when we instituted similar changes the quality of care nearer to home improves.”
The number of beds in Ilkeston was already cut from 32 last year, as the CCG looks to deliver more care and rehabilitation services in patients’ homes or social care setting.
A report to yesterday’s meeting outlined research carried out this spring, which appeared to show that a majority of patients who could not be discharged from the hospital without further support could have their clinical needs met more effectively in other settings.
The CCG is therefore proposing to match the bed cuts by increasing its capacity for home care from 27 spaces to 37, and for ‘supportive bed care’ elsewhere in the community from three spaces to 11.
Dr Lloyd said: “There is robust evidence indicating that delay in transfer from hospital based care to care in the community is associated with poorer outcomes in terms of mobility and long-term ability to self-care.
“We’ve already got excellent staff and services in Ilkeston – we just need to make sure the balance of what is offered keeps up with the type of care needed so patients are looked after in the right way for them.”
The plans have reportedly been shared with partner organisations across health and social care and received support, however there has been some dissent among local political figures.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate Catherine Atkinson, who gathered 1,000 signatures with a petition against bed cuts in 2018, said: “This news is sadly not unexpected but is devastating for Ilkeston and is why I have been campaigning against bed closures since last summer. I’ll continue to fight for our hospital.
“The Conservative MP has accused me, and everyone who has raised the alarm on these and other cuts at Ilkeston Hospital of scaremongering.”
She added: “On September 28, 2018, Maggie Throup MP made a statement categorically ruling out bed cuts at Ilkeston Hospital. Now we know how little that commitment was worth.”
In a post on her blog that day, Maggie Throup said: “I am extremely pleased to confirm that no beds will close at Ilkeston Community Hospital as part of Derbyshire CCGs wider plans to save three per cent of their budget this year.
“It is clear that the CCGs have been persuaded by my argument, and have moved to reassure residents by publicly ruling out bed closures.”
However, with a new year and a new budget, the MP has taken a more moderate stance on the situation.
She said: “I have already been in contact with the chief executive of the CCG to express my concerns about certain aspects of the proposals.
“I will continue to express my concerns and will raise possible options with the health minister.”
She added: “But we must always remember that our hospital is more than just beds, it serves our community as an outpatient hub and has a brilliant diagnostic and treatment centre, as well as the Minor Injuries Unit.
“While these proposals may change the way our community hospital delivers its service, they in no way mean that the hospital is under threat of closure as has been so recklessly suggested by the Labour Party in the past.
“We must always be mindful of what is best for the patient. There is evidence that in the first 24 hours in hospital, a patient loses two to five per cent of their muscle strength, rising to 10 per cent in the first seven days.
“We should not be over-medicalising old age and always have the goal of ensuring patients are treated in the right place at the right time, recognising that their own home is so often the best place.”
Further details about the public engagement process will soon be available at http://tiny.cc/jenx7y.