Cornishman Article August 2017
Sunday 23rd July was Newlyn Raft Race day and our stall on the Green was visited by around 200 people.
Our focus was on the absence of Community Hospital beds available for people in this area. Our petition “demanding the re-provision of beds in Penwith”, had its first outing and we were heartened that most of the visitors to our stall were keen to sign it. What we found less heartening were the stories of relatives and friends unable to leave Treliske, because of a lack of rehabilitation beds and suitable home care packages. At the end of the day we were left feeling that despite all the rhetoric about delivering a 21st century health and social care system and local solutions for local people, the reality is that services are being centralised and moved further away from people’s communities resulting in increased travelling for patients and relatives and more hidden costs for the individual patient. In essence, services getting worse rather than better.
The GP Commissioners appear totally fixated on their finances, due to the requirement to make unrealistic savings by NHS England at the behest of this government. We worry that the current engagement process, done in the name of ‘localism’ is about softening us up for future permanent closures of our local hospitals, as witnessed in Devon last week. Indeed, the latest engagement information for West Cornwall does not even mention Community hospital beds. Unless we speak up now what is gone will stay gone.
Over the last twelve years, Cornwall has lost 170 Community Hospital beds. Of the 313 remaining, 31 are ‘temporarily’ closed across Cornwall, twelve of these being the Edward Hain beds still closed after eighteen months. Meanwhile Treliske, our acute hospital, continues to have an average of 60 patients a day awaiting a suitable place for discharge.
The backlog of maintenance on community hospitals throughout Cornwall has risen to £26 million, and we are concerned that by reducing maintenance over years, closing hospitals for safety or staffing reasons, then telling us they are no longer fit for purpose, fits neatly with a recommendation from the Naylor report to sell off ‘redundant’ NHS buildings to the private sector. The capital released may or may not come back to the local area. Remember Poltair, sold off at the knock down price of £500,000. Has Penwith seen any of that money to provide extra community services?
West Cornwall HealthWatch has written to MP Derek Thomas, asking some serious and pertinent questions about government policy regarding the Naylor Report.
We plan to be in Penzance’s Causewayhead between 10 and 12 on Saturday 5th August. Please come along to talk to us and sign our petition.
Copyright Jan Williams and Jane Varker