Health chiefs and campaigners hail 'significant progress' on future of Rothbury hospital

Health chiefs have announced significant progress on the future of Rothbury Community Hospital.
The Save Rothbury Hospital campaign group.The Save Rothbury Hospital campaign group.
The Save Rothbury Hospital campaign group.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have been discussing the future of the much-loved local hospital with local campaigners.

Since a public consultation in early 2017, a subsequent referral to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) and recommendations by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, both organisations have been working with the community to get the most out of the facility.

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Now, the trust and CCG are proactively looking to: Increase outpatient clinics, from falls clinics through to orthopaedics and others, some of which will use new technological links that enable virtual consultations; and provide additional clinical and day care services utilising the hospital site as a hub for health and care delivery.

Services include: Dementia care; Learning disability forums; Health and well being clinics; Chemotherapy care; Enhanced emergency healthcare planning; Mental Health and IAPT services; Physiotherapy; Dentistry; Introduce a new metric to measure the number of miles travelled for services and, where possible, the NHS will look to reduce this; Introduce a flexible bed model – with inpatient beds available within the hospital for short-term rehab and end of life care. The number of beds will be dependent on clinical need.

What health chiefs have to say

Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We are committed to providing as much care as we can as locally as possible. However, this has to be balanced with what is safe and sustainable.

“We have worked hard, with the support of local representatives, to create ‘the art of the possible’ and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their involvement and patience during this time.

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“It will not be easy to deliver a flexible bed model, something that does not exist anywhere else within the NHS. However, we are committed to working hard to make this work and will continue our engagement with the campaign group over the years to come to ensure we collectively make Rothbury Community Hospital the hub of health and well being for the local community.”

Janet Guy, lay chair of Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We looked in detail at the Secretary of State’s recommendations and set up an engagement group with representatives from the local community to understand their concerns in more depth.

“We have listened to what the engagement group has had to say and are pleased that we now have a potential way ahead for the hospital which addresses many of the group’s concerns. We look forward to working together to ensure that the new model meets the needs of the community in ways which are effective and sustainable.”

The proposal will now be considered by Northumberland County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee on September 3.

Campaigners help shape hospital's future

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Katie Scott, spokesperson for the ‘Save Rothbury Community Hospital’ campaign group, said: “In recent months we have worked very closely with officials from the NHS. We are pleased to see that our concerns and ideas for the hospital have helped to inform and shape the proposals.

"We look forward to the discussion at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee when there should – at last – be a resolution, including inpatient beds, which will allow us all to focus on a vibrant future for Rothbury Community Hospital.”

Councillor hails work by campaign group

Coun Steven Bridgett, Rothbury ward member on Northumberland County Council, said: “In the nearly three years since the 12 in-patient beds at Rothbury Community Hospital were closed I have been in awe – and am immensely proud – of the way the community has rallied round its local hospital. The ‘Save Rothbury Hospital’ team, in particular, have done a brilliant job.

“Since the Independent Reconfiguration Panel recommendations were announced the campaign, CCG, trust and myself – working alongside other community representatives – have met regularly to come up with proposals that will safeguard the future of the hospital.

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“We are not there yet but I believe this offers a sensible, pragmatic compromise, that will see beds return to Rothbury hospital for step up, step down and end of life care, in addition to a number of other new services and I am very excited about what it means for the residents of the Coquet, Aln and Rede Valleys. But ultimately, it is the residents who live in these valleys that should decide and I welcome their opinions on these new proposals.”

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