Monday 19th May 

  1. The decision unanimously approved by the Board of NHS Kernow last week not only supports the option which was the least favoured by the community during the public consultation, but also reveals huge risks and dangerously unproven assumptions, as well as a tragically lost opportunity: The Board approved a plan to relocate all Poltair services (excepting inpatient beds) to alternative locations, though none of these locations have yet been assessed for suitability, sustainability, value for money, feasibility, accessibility etc and may yet prove neither acceptable nor viable, in which case the plan collapses
  2. There is an assumption that increased community bed capacity is not required. However, the plan signals a decrease in community bed capacity, now that we seem to have lost permanently the ten beds at Poltair. Furthermore, there is as yet no clear evidence that less community hospital beds are required in Penwith. If evidence is produced to prove that more beds are needed than the few remaining in Edward Hain Hospital, St Ives, again this plan will collapse.
  3. As the Consultation progressed during January-March 2014, the proposal of a major new integrated health development on the St Clare site provided a golden opportunity to do something ground-breaking to benefit the community*. It now seems that there has been insufficient time to develop such a proposal (which history may prove was exactly what was required) and which has been left to slip through our fingers

Whilst we understand the desire to make a decision about Poltair, we fear that approving the wholesale closure of Poltair at this stage is reckless and premature. Indeed, we could be forgiven for concluding that the entire Consultation was a sham; hadn’t Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and its partners decided in advance what they wanted to do, and although they clearly heard an alternative solution, were able to discount it with ease? There are many in this community who will see it this way.

The detailed report from the Consultation identifies ‘public discontent’ as the biggest major risk, and that is indeed the case. West Cornwall HealthWatch members, along with many other community representatives, made their position abundantly clear over the past months, and despite everything it seems that this has been no more than quietly acknowledged and then dismissed.

We have cause to wonder whether our presence as ‘stakeholders’ does no more than enable decision-makers to ‘tick the box’ of community involvement or, even worse, attempt to diminish or silence an independent community voice. However, as ever, our motivation and commitment is to our local community and particularly its elderly and vulnerable members, for whom we shall continue to campaign with our customary tenacity.

So we will continue as ‘stakeholders’, giving time to sit around the table with decision-makers, as they need us to do. In the meanwhile, we encourage readers to contact us if they are concerned about recent experiences of care in the Cornish health system, whether this was in hospital or with nursing care at home.