Concerns over elderly care plans in West Oxon
The District Council is raising concerns about proposals for Witney Community Hospital which it believes could reduce the number of beds available for West Oxfordshire residents.
The proposals by Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust concern the treatment of elderly patients in need of specialist medical care and would mean a change of use, from care at a level that GPs can provide to specialist geratology-supported care, for 25 beds at Witney Hospital. The PCT is proposing the same for Abingdon Community Hospital, in the Vale district. It would mean that patients from across the county could be treated at Witney or Abingdon Community Hospitals if they require specialist geratology care.
The PCT says the proposals would mean “bringing together all patients who need to be cared for by specialist gerontologists into one place in order to deliver the right level of medical care in the best way possible.”
At a meeting, West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Members said that while they welcomed specialist care for the elderly, they were concerned the proposals would lead to a loss in beds for local patients as the PCT did not plan to replace the beds being set aside for specialist care. The Members called for 25 extra beds to be provided to ensure this would not happen.
There were also serious concerns about a lack of public consultation over the proposals. Although the PCT has invited the Council to give its views and comments, and has liaised with Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it does not plan to consult members of the public.
Cabinet Members agreed a motion put forward by Cllr Hilary Biles, Cabinet Member for Health, that:
- The Council does not believe there has been adequate consultation with the public
- The Council has serious concerns about the prospect of a loss of beds for West Oxfordshire patients at Witney
- The PCT is requested to provide of minimum of 25 extra beds to ensure there is no loss in the number of beds available to local people
Cllr Hilary Biles said: “We only received the letter about these proposals at very short notice and were given only a short timeframe to respond. There are several concerns. Although we all want to see complex care being delivered by the correct specialists, there is an issue over having a certain number of beds dedicated to patients needing specialist care which can be accessed by anyone in the County, whereas previously, patients attended the hospital from the Witney area. This will put a strain on the current beds at Witney Hospital and the PCT do not intend to increase the number of beds overall. We would be like to see an increase in bed numbers to take into account that patients are able to access the beds from outside West Oxfordshire.”
The Cabinet agreed that the Council’s Chief Executive, David Neudegg, should write to the PCT setting out these and other concerns, including highlighting rural transport issues and the lack of public transport in the District, which may affect relatives of patients who would have to travel to Witney.
Under the proposals, the PCT says that Chipping Norton Community Hospital and other community hospitals in the Vale and South districts would be provided with “appropriate medical cover from GP colleagues as best serves their need.”
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