Stoke-on-Trent City Council vows to fight community beds axe plan

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Councillors at Stoke-on-Trent City Council have joined campaigners to fight proposed closures of community hospital beds throughout the city.

The closures, announced by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), are likely at centres in Bradwell (pictured), Longton Cottage, Heywood and Cheadle.

But councillors fear it will plunge patients and staff into disarray. Campaign groups have been set up to fight the closures.

Councillor Joan Bell, head of Scrutiny Committee for Health Issues and Social Care, said: “We want to call on the CCG to put a hold on plans to close the community beds.

“We want a meaningful consultation and full assessment before anything goes ahead.

“I have also asked the Leader of the Council, the Lord Mayor, to write to the Secretary of State for Health to inform them of our concerns and ask for the process to be stopped.”

Community beds are mostly used by older patients after a time in hospital for rehabilitation.

But with impending closures, patients will have to be cared for at home.

Cllr Bell added: “It’s about saving money.

“They think people can be cared for better and cheaper in the community but don’t understand this care in the community is unavailable.”

Cllr Alan Dutton described it as “inhumane and illogical”, and said it was a unanimous decision to stand against the plans.

Cllr Olwen Hamer wants to send a petition to Downing Street in a bid to see faster results.

She said: “In our petition the wording needs to be aggressive, we need to ask for a deadline and ask for it to be produced in weeks rather than months.

“It’s disgraceful, we need to send this petition to 10 and 11 Downing Street.”

Facebook group “Save Bradwell Hospital Community Care Beds” has a total of 690 likes with users commenting actively on the on-going process.

One user, Trev Miles, said: “Stand up for the NHS, not for profit but for people.”

Sharon Emery, staff nurse on Oak Ward at Bradwell Hospital, said: “We are not just fighting to save our beds at Bradwell, but also the remaining beds at Heywood and Leek.

“Community beds nationwide are being lost and there are not enough social care packages in place to enable a safe discharge for the most valuable and vulnerable patients in our society.”

The CCG is in talks with the council, but nothing has been changed in regards to closures.

A public meeting was held at Bradwell Community Centre on October 21.

A spokesman for the committee said: “As ever there is a lot of worry about the lack of care available once the beds close and whether the care that is out there is fit for purpose.”

North Staffordshire CCG said there are no current plans to close community hospitals, rather it will decommission intermediate care beds.

Marcus Warnes, accountable officer of North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We want to keep people as independent as they can be.

“This is better for both their physical and mental health, and prolonged stays in hospital can lead to a deterioration in their condition and the hospital becomes their home.

“Everybody is aware the NHS is facing significant financial pressures and we have to be honest in admitting that efficiencies need to be made.

“However, patient safety will always come first and making sure that people receive the right treatment in the right place is paramount.”

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