‘We’re not going to let Benjamin Court go without a fight’: Uncertainty surrounds future of north Norfolk healthcare units after plans to remove patient beds were revealed
- Credit: Colin Finch
Uncertainty surrounds the future of healthcare units in north Norfolk after health chiefs revealed plans to remove patient beds.
North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group has served notice to Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) on the beds it commissions at Benjamin Court in Roughton Road, Cromer and Cranmer House in Norwich Road, Fakenham.
It revealed it is moving away from hospital-based services to provide more care in the community and has developed a new 'Supported Care' model which is due to be rolled out in May.
Cromer Town Council heard the removal of beds could mean patients in the town who require a bed being forced to make a 44-mile round-trip to Wells in future.
Cromer mayor Tim Adams said: 'I'm disgusted that there has been no consultation. This could potentially have huge implications on not only the town but the community.'
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Councillor David Russell, a member of a patients' watchdog group, revealed his anger at not being told of the plans earlier. He added: 'That (Benjamin Court) is a great asset.' And he added: 'We are not going to let that go without a fight.'
With budget hotel chains actively seeking new sites in the town, councillor David Pritchard questioned whether health chiefs were considering selling the land for development?
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Councillor Brenda Stibbons, a former hospital union steward, said: 'I am quite astonished at this. It's the staff as well. If they are changing what they are doing I'm sure there will be some staff affected as well.'
North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (NN CCG) is a local membership organisation led by family doctors that is responsible for planning and paying for healthcare services. It is made up of 19 GP Practices in North Norfolk and rural Broadland.
A spokesperson for NHS North Norfolk CCG said: 'In line with the national direction of travel, North Norfolk CCG has been working to identify models of care that provide individuals with further support in their own home – the aspiration being that this will avoid patients being admitted to secondary care and subsequently intermediate care.
'Working with clinicians from within the Commissioners, Norfolk First Support (NFS) and NCH&C, the CCG has developed a 'Supported Care' model that provides increased care (albeit with some clinical oversight) within the community which is due to commence in May 2017 as part of a staged roll out programme.
'We can confirm that North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group have issued notice to Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) on the beds - not the units themselves - which we commission at Cranmer House and Benjamin Court.
'The CCG has conducted multiple clinical audits of bed usage in the North Norfolk locality which identified a group of patients who predominantly required rehabilitation, rather than treatment, and would benefit from a different service. The CCG believes that the introduction of a supported care model will replace the need for the intermediate beds within Cranmer House and Benjamin Court in their current form.'
Health chiefs insisted it is only the beds and not the health units themselves that are under-threat.
However, it confirmed it is consulting with colleagues at Cromer, Kelling and North Walsham hospitals over alternative uses for the facilities.
The spokesperson continued: 'The CCG recognises the importance these units hold within the community and seeks to stress that it is not giving notice to close the units themselves – the CCGs vision is for these units to be a thriving and focal point of the communities potentially providing both health and social care related services.
'We are in the process of considering the alternative uses for these units and have invited colleagues including NCH&C, Friends of Cranmer House, North Walsham Hospital, Kelling Hospital and Cromer Hospital to input into this process.
'These practices are all members of our organisation. The member doctors will lead the decisions about which hospital services, mental health services and the community healthcare services are needed for the 172,000 people living in the area our member practices cover.'
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