CCGs slammed by health advisory experts over handling of community hospital bed closures

AN independent advisory body of health experts has slammed local NHS bosses over removal of beds at community hospitals in North Staffordshire.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) has published a damning report on the way the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups controversial ‘My Care, My Way – Home First’ has resulted in the “temporary closure” of 168 beds at the Leek, Cheadle, Longton Cottage and Bradwell hospitals.

The Government advisory panel has blasted the local CCGs for their ‘reactive, incomplete and ill-focused approach’ to community care.

The reaction follows an approach by local councillors and MPs made to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt raising concerns over the lack of public consultation.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council leader Sybil Ralphs MBE and Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley met with Mr Hunt to express their concern over the closure of community beds at Leek Moorlands Hospital.

According to the damning IRP report the local CCGs failed to make the case for change and accused them of ‘tying themselves in knots about engagement and consultation.’

However, the panel stopped short of calling for a full review into the proposals. Instead it said the NHS should be able to work with the local authorities to address the issues.

The report added:” The NHS has not established a robust programme for change and experienced a number of false starts.

The bed modelling presented to the committee in September 2015 has proved entirely incorrect and misleading.

The pattern demonstrated is that the CCGs present plans simply do not carry through and make decisions that do not turn out as intended. They seem to have been overtaken by the events and demonstrated a lack of both capacity and capability to implement major change with their partners.”

The  CCGs consultation also did not include any meaningful reference to the impact on community beds and there was no evidence that responses were evaluated before the decision was taken.

More than 40 beds have been closed at each of the Moorlands two community hospitals in Leek and Cheadle.

A petition organised by Leek councillor Pat Wood, pictured, a former hospital nurse and ward manager, and organiser of the ‘Save Leek Hospital’campaign, attracted well over 20,000 signatures.

Councillor Wood, addressing the CCG meeting in Leek last September, said: “I have been told Leek Moorlands Hospital will be closing by 2019 and the services there will be offered elsewhere. But it wasn’t so long ago that the CCG spent £1.2 million on the minor injuries unit there.

We are told these are only temporary closures but the staff have already been moved on and interviewed elsewhere.”

The CGGs have promised a full publication consultation on the proposals will take place early next year.

  • THE Independent Reconfiguration Panel is the independent expert on NHS service change.

It is an advisory non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Health. It reviews proposals for changes to NHS services that are being contested and advises the Secretary of State for Health.  Panel members have wide-ranging expertise in clinical healthcare, NHS management, public and patient involvement.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel website states: “The focus of our work is the patient and quality care in the context of safe, sustainable and accessible services for local people.”