Give us back our hospital beds

Posted on: 18th February 2013

West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, is calling on health chiefs to sort out Cornwall’s hospital bed crisis as a matter of urgency. He said that bed shortages, including the closure of inpatient beds at Poltair Hospital, were putting an intolerable pressure on both the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and on community health and social services; and called for the local NHS to find an ‘integrated solution’, not the building up of ‘fortress walls’ between different providers of service.

Mr George spoke following a series of meetings at the weekend with health campaigners and senior health officials. He said that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust confirmed that they had dozens of patients who could not be discharged from Treliske or West Cornwall Hospitals because of the lack of “step-down” beds in places like Poltair or with sufficient support in the community.

Mr George said, “The situation is intolerable. It cannot wait for the long running community services review which won’t be reporting for at least another 8 weeks. The Primary Care Trust says that Peninsula Community Health – the company which runs the community hospitals – is meeting its contract, therefore the PCT is not concerned about the Poltair closure. If that’s the case then the contract should be looked at again.

“I had supported keeping community hospitals and community health services in the NHS, by bringing them all under the umbrella of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust rather than creating a new private company to run them. That would have helped RCHT discharge patients from their acute hospitals without having to get managers and accountants to sort out who was paying for what every time a patient is moved.

“We need a more integrated NHS now more than ever. But that is not what we’re going to get. Rather than having a single pot of NHS money being divvied up into artificially separate organisations with artificially separate business accounts and with fortress walls between them and therefore a seeming inability to cooperate, it’s time for organisations in Cornwall to come back together, to break down the barriers that divide them and to provide an integrated healthcare system which makes sure that there are enough hospital beds to go around.”

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