Campaigners express fears over community hospital at Frenchay
Published on: 08 Jun 2015
CAMPAIGNERS for a community hospital at Frenchay fear there could be a four-year delay before any replacement NHS beds are provided on the site.
They want the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene urgently and force local health bosses to work together to provide adequate hospital services for the people of South Gloucestershire.
Barbara Harris, of the Save Frenchay Community Hospital group, said there was at least as much need for the facility now as there had been when it was first proposed in 2005.
The closure of the acute hospital at Frenchay last year and the switch of services to the new Southmead Hospital was based on having a 68-bed community hospital at Frenchay by 2016.
Since 2012, South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has been looking at alternative ways of looking after at-risk patients and is considering a “health and social care centre” run by an external provider on the 6.8 acre site instead of the twice-approved community hospital.
No formal decision has yet been made, and the campaigners insist that a community hospital, with outpatient and diagnostic clinics, as well as beds for patients recovering from illness or injury, or after surgery, is what is needed.
They are calling on South Gloucestershire’s public health and health scrutiny commission at its meeting on June 10 to refer the matter back to Mr Hunt, who was told by an independent panel 15 months ago that there had already been too many delays.
Mrs Harris, who lives in Downend, said the reduction in acute beds at Southmead following the closure of Frenchay and the lack of intermediate care beds was continuing to cause problems including delayed discharges and cancelled operations.
Patients needing rehabilitation are currently treated in Elgar House at Southmead but this is due to be demolished in 2016 to make way for a car park and the campaigners say the local NHS organisations own figures indicate that rehab beds at Frenchay may not be provided until 2020, the campaigners claim.
“The Save Frenchay Community Hospital Group has tirelessly fought for sufficient and appropriate healthcare provision in South Gloucestershire for ten years. We have witnessed the removal and destruction of so much healthcare infrastructure in South Gloucestershire and we will continue to make patients and the public aware of what is really happening,” Mrs Harris said.
Dr Stephen Illingworth, of South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said plans for the 3Rs - rehabilitation, reablement and recovery services – had been formally agreed in 2014. In March 2015, the CCG had decided to go ahead with seeking providers for services at Frenchay.
“The service at Elgar House is being provided as an interim arrangement until the alternative plans for Frenchay have been developed. There is currently no requirement for Elgar to be vacated in 2016,” he said.