‘We’ll battle on’ vow on Frenchay Hospital

Published on: 31 Mar 2014

THE fight will go on to make sure Frenchay gets the community hospital it needs and deserves.

That's the pledge to the people of the Downend area from campaigners after an independent panel ruled out a full review of proposals to reduce the promised provision.

The Save Frenchay Hospital Group said the panel had been clear in its advice to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that further work was needed on proposals for healthcare provision in north Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Barbara Harris, from the group, said the panel's report had vindicated members' ten years of efforts to “shine a light into the shady world of NHS management”.

The report commented: “That residents of the area should feel exasperated by the years of delay, changes to the NHS organisation, pauses in developments and amendments to plans is entirely understandable. The overall process to date has shown a marked lack of empathy for patients and the public, who have a right to expect better.”

The independent reconfiguration panel (IRP) called on South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to work with North Bristol NHS Trust and South Gloucestershire Council and seek advice from experts to address concerns about provision of diagnostic and outpatient services and the number of rehabilitation beds needed for the growing population before taking a final decision about the community hospital.

MPs Chris Skidmore and Jack Lopresti raised the report in the Commons last week, saying local people had been denied a fair say over their healthcare ever since the original decision to concentrate acute health services at a new hospital at Southmead, which opens next month.

A 68-bed community hospital was planned for Frenchay but the CCG wants to drop the plans in favour of bringing in an external provider to run a “health and social care centre”, which could provide rehab beds paid for by the NHS, on the site.

Mrs Harris, who lives in Downend, said that twice over the last ten years the 68-bed hospital plan was fully approved by all involved.

“The Save Frenchay Hospital Group always suspected that we were being duped as no money was available for this. Now we are certain we have been,” she said.

The CCG welcomed the panel's decision and said it could now get on with planning rehabilitation services including community rehab beds on the Frenchay site, as well as providing more outpatient services and diagnostic test services at Cossham and Yate.

Rehab beds, for people who no longer need acute hospital care but still need nursing, will be provided at Elgar House in Southmead from May until any provision at Frenchay is completed, which the CCG hopes will be by 2017. Further consultation will take place over the proposals.

CCG chairman Dr Jonathan Hayes said: “We’re very pleased to be given the go-ahead to proceed with our plans for improving local health services for people in South Gloucestershire. As local GPs talking to patients every week in our surgeries, we also recognise that we need to strengthen our approach to engaging local people, patient and carers so that they can have confidence in decisions about how local health services are provided.”

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