Health chiefs defend hospital cuts

RICHARD PARR Paying for a senior nurse to care for 60 patients in the community costs the same as running hospital beds for 16 patients, a public meeting in Fakenham was told tonight.

RICHARD PARR

Paying for a senior nurse to care for 60 patients in the community costs the same as running hospital beds for 16 patients, a public meeting in Fakenham was told tonight .

The sharp reality of how cash is spent on health care was highlighted by Norfolk Primary Care Trust chief executive Hilary Daniels at a public meeting attended by more than 100 people.

The meeting was told it costs an average of £45,000 a year to run a community hospital bed supporting 16 patients.


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But it costs the same sum for a senior nurse could support around 60 patients in the community.

The meeting was told it was important to realise that not all parts of Norfolk have the same level of nursing and therapy teams working in the community.

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“We recognise that we could do better with the resources we have to help more people stay well at home,” said Mrs Daniels.

“If we had more staff supporting people at home we could concentrate fewer beds on fewer sites and save money.”

The meeting, the third of six to be held across Norfolk, was called to allow the public to put forward their views over the Norfolk PCT's plans to change the way intermediate care is delivered within the county.

Concern has been expressed in the Fakenham area over the future of beds at Cranmer House nursing unit and people spoke about the high level of health care offered at the Norwich Road complex.

Mrs Daniels said she “believed passionately” that the Norfolk PCT's “turnaround plan” to clear its inherited £50 million debt by March 2008 was achievable.

But she insisted it was not simply a matter of money - but also achieving the right balance between care in the community and hospital beds.

“But I want to stress that no decisions have yet been taken and, after these public forum meetings, there will be a 90-day consultation period in the new year before any decisions are taken,” she added.

The next public meeting is in Thetford on Thursday at the Carnegie Room, Thetford Town Council, King Street from 10am until 1pm.

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