Patients’ views sought over closures

MARK NICHOLLS A patient watchdog has stepped in to hold its own independent consultation over health trust plans to axe community hospitals and beds in Norfolk.

MARK NICHOLLS

A patient watchdog has stepped in to hold its own independent consultation over health trust plans to axe community hospitals and beds in Norfolk.

The Norfolk Patient and Public Involvement Forum (PPIF), which is running its operation in parallel with Norfolk Primary Care Trust, says it has already received concerns from patients about the plans for intermediate care.

Now it has organised an independent consultation and will forward its views to the PCT when the trust's formal 90-day consultation ends on June 5.

The forum stresses its research will be based on the trust's consultation document.

PPIF chairman Anthony Darwood said: “It is our job to find out patients' views and reflect them and we are trying to ensure that those independent views are heard. There is no suggestion that we do not trust the PCT's consultation, nevertheless, we do want to find out what people really think and it is coming through that people do not want to lose the beds.”

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The PCT is planning to reduce community beds from 201 to 158 and create a specialist stroke unit at Dereham. The proposal could mean some cottage hospitals closing.

The forum says people have told it that there is a place for both home care and community hospital beds, but that what is provided must be appropriate to the needs of the individual patient.

The PCT is holding a series of consultation meetings, which the PPIF will also attend, in the towns affected with the next one being in at the Holt Community Centre on Wednesday from 10am-2pm followed by a consultation meeting scheduled for Swaffham Community Centre on April 18 from 4-7pm.

Other views so far collected by the PPIF are that while people would prefer to recuperate at home in theory, they are concerned that this is not always practical, especially for people who live alone and those whose carers are themselves elderly or frail.

Through examples of problems with existing home care services and fear that the funding problems of the PCT and social services, patients fear that sufficient money will not be available to provide the levels of home care proposed.

The forum has also heard that people in north Norfolk are particularly worried about the impact of the increased travel on both patients and their relations.

People can send their views to the Forum Support Organisation by email at enquiries@nvsppifso.org.uk or by freepost at: Freepost RLYJ-AGET-UJSJ, NVS PPI Forum Support Organisation, Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road, Norwich, NR2 3TU.