Patients transferred from hospital to a nursing home bed will not be “there for the rest of their days”.
At a meeting of Derbyshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, councillors discussed the approved plans to cut the number of beds at Ilkeston Community Hospital to 16.
As part of this plan, from the Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), more beds would be created at one of the council’s nursing homes along with more in-home care.
Health chiefs had said that for many patients a hospital is not the best place and they would be better placed in a nursing home with around-the-clock care.
During the meeting on Monday, Councillor Dave Allen said: “I know through this you are creating more beds in the community rather than in the hospital and I support that completely, I know that for many people having care in their own home is the best thing for them.
“However, I do worry that more people will be transferred into nursing homes and then that is that, they’ll never leave and you are there for the rest of your days.
“I need convincing that this will work.”
Kate Brown, the CCG’s director of joint commissioning and community development, replied: “On the point you made about people being in a care home for the rest of their days, people transferred from the hospital would typically only be there for around two weeks and I would hope that people are able to leave before then.
Councillors, including Coun Irene Ratcliffe, also commented that changes to the local branches of the NHS should not be carried out while there is a programme of cuts being undertaken – with £69.5 million needed to be saved by the CCGs this year.
She said: “We all want the same thing, and that is for better care for people in their community, and we don’t want to undermine that.
“Instead of reducing beds, we should be working to find another way we can do it, and it might cost more.”
Tracy Allen, the chief executive of Derbyshire Community Health Services (DCHS) NHS Foundation Trust, conceded: “We do face huge challenges that need a national response, but we can’t wait for that, we have to get on with it.
“If we don’t do this, the quality of Derby and Derbyshire healthcare would be the worse for it.
“This presented a huge opportunity to transform care and provide it at a reduced cost.”
Councillor Gary Musson asked if the CCGs were determined to make the Ilkeston changes work, and not reverse its decision, even if there ended up being wider repercussions.
Ms Allen said: “We may have in the past not communicated well as a system and one of us has made savings without taking into account the impact on the rest of the system, but that is not the case now.
“There is a risk, but we are better placed to manage that risk than we have ever been before.”
Earlier in the meeting, William Jones, the chief operating officer at DCHS said that “two-to-three” Ilkeston staff had quit while the change was being discussed.
However, he said that more occupational therapists and physiotherapists would also be recruited as part of the move.
He said that vacant space left at the hospital through the reduction in beds would be used for a new community wound care facility and that its long-term use would be reviewed.
Mr Jones reiterated that the hospital “absolutely isn’t going to close”.
A discussion over ongoing plans between the county council and DCHS for a new health facility on Derwent Street, Belper, to replace Babington Hospital, was heard entirely in private.
This was despite Simon Hobbs, the authority’s deputy director of legal services, saying that councillors and council staff had not been provided with a copy of the report until just before the meeting and this was not enough time to decide whether it should be heard in public or not.
He said that committee members were now being asked to move an item in to private debate without any knowledge or reason why it should or shouldn’t be.
Mr Jones says that the paper relates to a joint aim between itself and the county council to build new facilities on a combined site on Derwent Street, Belper.
He said it was to discuss “the delay of the NHS element of that” and involved “commercial and confidential issues” which would not be resolved until November.
Committee chairman, Councillor David Taylor, apologising, moved the item in to private debate.
Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service