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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Carlisle's community hospital to close

Carlisle's community hospital will close – and without any public consultation.

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Earmarked for closure: Health bosses are pushing ahead with plans to shut Reiver House, in the grounds of Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary

Health bosses are pushing ahead with plans to shut the 14-bed Reiver House and instead move care into people’s own homes, The Cumberland News can reveal.

Carlisle City Council deputy leader Elsie Martlew said she was stunned the unit could be closed without patients having a say.

NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which funds the so-called ‘step up step down’ care unit – in the grounds of the Cumberland Infirmary – asked the county’s health scrutiny panel in April if public consultation would be needed before it could close.

It has now confirmed that this is not necessary, because all of the resources will be reinvested in community care.

All of the existing staff will be kept on, but redeployed into the community as part of the Hospital at Home plans.

A month-long consultation process with employees is set to start on Monday. Once everyone has moved into the community the lease on the building will be terminated – though an exact closure date has yet to be confirmed.

Although funded by the CCG, Reiver House is run by the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

In a joint statement they explained that the closure follows a successful pilot project and will allow more older and vulnerable people in Carlisle, Brampton and Longtown to be cared for in their own homes.

A spokeswoman said the Hospital at Home scheme started last September in Carlisle.

She said: “The pilot has been popular, with many patients choosing home care rather than a stay in hospital and their recovery has been quicker than expected. Now the CCG is working with providers to extend the successful pilot.

“This means that Reiver House will no longer be used for older and vulnerable patients. Instead all of the resources – staff and finances – related to that unit will be transferred to the Hospital at Home project.”

She added that engagement is being planned with patients, their families, carers and staff.

But Mrs Martlew, who represents Castle ward, said there should have been proper consultation before a decision was made.

Mrs Martlew said: “I’m really surprised and dismayed at the speed which this is happening.

“It wasn’t long ago that they said this was only being considered. It didn’t seem imminent. The fact they are doing this without consultation really shakes confidence.

“I do not know what this term Hospital at Home really means, but as an individual I know that if I need hospital care I want to be in a hospital.”

Bosses have confirmed that the 15 beds at Brampton hospital will be retained, though their use is being reviewed.

John Holland, chairman of the Friends of Brampton Hospital, said although he was pleased to hear their beds were safe, he did have some concerns for the future.

“It makes you wonder how big a closure needs to be before consultation is required. It is a little worrying that a decision like that would be made without it,” he added.

Mrs Martlew, who said everything she knew about the proposals had been from articles in The Cumberland News, said she was also worried about future cuts. “This moving of patients from somewhere you can see to something you can’t see is a concern.”

The plans may also be seen to go against the wishes of new NHS chief Simon Stevens, who last week hinted he was against closing local hospitals.

But the CCG insists it is all about improving care – building on the success of the pilot, which treated 182 people in the Carlisle district at home.

The scheme has seen patients benefit from 24/7 care from a specialist team of nurses, other healthcare staff and social workers. CCG clinical chairman Dr Hugh Reeve added: “The pilot project has shown how beneficial delivering care to people in their own homes can be.”

Angela Reynolds, an advanced nurse practitioner involved in the project, said: “The feedback from patients and carers has been very positive and staff have commented on how rewarding it is to work as part of Hospital at Home.”

Have your say

My mum went into reiver house for a while and she could not have been at home during her stay there she would have needed someone 24hours per day to look after her - so would she then have to go into hospital and bed block - I agree that some people could be at home with help but its not for everyone

Posted by maureen barlow on 13 June 2014 at 12:31

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