Cornishman Article Oct 2016


Autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, or more accurately season of myths and hollow promises.

We now know the promise that the closure of 12 community beds at Edward Hain hospital was only a temporary measure, has been broken.

Unbelievably, at a recent meeting chaired by Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust it was suggested the only way to get the beds open again is for ‘the community’ to find £650,000. This would pay for the work that the Trust claims is needed to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

This creates a dilemma for fundraising groups such as Edward Hain’s League of Friends, as there is no guarantee that these beds would remain open due to the uncertainty around the future of all of Cornwall’s Community hospitals.

The spectacularly misnamed ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ (STP) has finally surfaced as a strategic outline. The premise underlying this plan is that our public services are disjointed, overstretched, outdated, not cost effective and therefore need reconfiguring.

West Cornwall HeathWatch agrees that our services are indeed fragmented and overstretched. Our analysis is that the implementation of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and the severe restriction in funding to both health and social care has been the main driver of these twin problems.

As to the claim that our health services are outdated and not cost effective, we disagree. There is no evidence to support the idea that reconfiguring acute hospital services will a) save money and b) improve quality (Kings Fund 2016). On the other hand there is good evidence to show that our health service is cost effective in relation to the percentage of GDP spent and features consistently high in the International Health League Table.

The strategic outline plan argues that Cornwall’s acute and community bed provision is the problem. In short, hospital beds are expensive and bad, care at home is cheaper and good.

We suggest the real problem is that there are no longer any community beds in Penwith.  Our solution would be the provision of rehabilitation and intermediate care beds within a community service hub.

The myth that our health service is outdated and unaffordable is being effectively spun by politicians and health bosses alike. The remedy being prescribed is wholesale change – with immediate effect. 

We question whether the plan for Cornwall will be a true response to the long- term needs of the Cornish population.  Will it lead to diminished health and social care services? Will costs be pushed onto patients?  Will there be an ever- increasing reliance on community fundraising?

Perhaps it is time for an alternative STP. What about a PSTP?   A Peoples’ Simple and Transparent Plan. Now there’s a thought!


Jane Varker and Jan Williams 2/10/2016

Copyright to West Cornwall HealthWatch