Community hospital beds row won’t lie down just yet

A FURTHER delay has been announced to a consultation into the removal of beds from five community hospitals in North Staffordshire.

The controversial scheme put forward by the North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commission (CCGs) was due to be the subject of open discussions early last year.

However, the CCG’s postponed talks because of the coming county council elections, a parliamentary by-election and the General Election.

The Independent Refiguration Panel (IRP) – an expert body which advises Government on NHS changes – has since criticised the North Staffs and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for its decision to remove more than 100 beds without proper consultation.

The CCGs are considering delaying consultation for a further three months after issuing a report that states “more work is needed to ensure the case for change meets the patient care test for hospital closures.”

North Staffordshire CCG lay member Peter Dartford said: “What is worrying is that the closure of community beds is about cost cutting and not about pateints.

We need to make sure we are not simply trying to balance the books but are looking at patient services.”