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Hospital beds axe move is shelved
COST-cutting plans to close community hospital beds have been shelved after opposition from health commissioners.
Worcestershire Health and Care Trust wanted to get rid of at least 10 per cent of the county’s 200 community beds as part of a wider service transformation project to save £8 million a year until 2017/18.
It said the beds were already deemed surplus to requirements and unlikely to be needed in the future as it shifts to a greater focus on delivering care at home.
But bosses at South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – which controls the purse strings for the area’s health services and is responsible for handing over cash to the health and care trust – refused to sanction the move.
They said there was “no desire or enthusiasm” to close beds and told the trust to come up with other ways of saving money.
Discussions over alternative plans are ongoing but, more than six months on, have not yet been agreed.
This is threatening to have financial implications for the health and care trust which says that, without commissioners’ support, its efficiency savings in this area “cannot be realised”.
Both organisations remain hopeful of reaching an agreement and Simon Trickett, chief operating officer of South Worcestershire CCG, wants the matter resolved before the end of the year.
“We didn’t support the original cost improvement plans because they involved closing some community hospital beds,” he said. “This wouldn’t have been in line with our plans that, in basic terms, include making better use of the hospitals by removing some of the barriers to access that currently exist. “We’ve been working closely with the trust, the local community and local clinicians over the last few months to develop these ideas and expect to have a five-year plan for each community hospital by the end of December this year.”
Sue Harris, director of strategy and business at Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, said that patients would be at the centre of any plans for the future of community hospitals.