Northumbria Healthcare has created a new strategic partnership with a third-party care provider, People First Care, which will allow the NHS to deliver a flexible number of beds to meet the needs of patients in Rothbury, while continuing to provide extra support for people’s health and care needs in their own home.
As part of the scheme, Northumbria will commit to taking NHS beds within this facility - with numbers moving up and down flexibly to meet patient needs.
Under the plans, People First Care will operate a 12-15 bed unit for people needing respite care, rehabilitation services, longer-term recuperation or end-of-life care. This facility will be supported by a wider team of district nurses, GPs and nurse practitioners.
Northumbria Healthcare’s chief executive, Sir James Mackey, said: “This is a really exciting development and I’m pleased that we’re able to announce these plans after so much hard work. The last two years have been incredibly challenging for all health and care services but it’s very rewarding to see the end result.
“The trust has been working incredibly hard to develop our ambition for hospital care in Rothbury but like every organisation in the health and care sector our focus for the past two years has been on managing the Covid-19 pandemic.
"While much work has already been done, this has disrupted some of our planning but also taught us valuable lessons on the flexibility we need to cope with future challenges.
“We believe this model not only delivers the right level of NHS care, but also adds much-needed additional residential care home beds for the community.
"We’re confident that this unique and innovative approach can be a real success in Rothbury and we are committed to making it work.”
The news has been welcomed in the local community.
Cllr Steven Bridgett, Rothbury county councillor, said: “We have been waiting for a sustainable health and care bed solution for Rothbury for some years and I am pleased that the model outlined to me is progressing with a view that this will be opened in the spring.
“I have been in regular contact with the trust and feel that they have listened to the concerns of the residents of Rothbury & Coquetdale and developed a solution that not only deals with the need for flexible healthcare beds but also adds to this a wider care solution that has been missing from this community for some years.”
Katie Scott, coordinator of the Save Rothbury Community Hospital Campaign Team, added: “Since the closure of the ward, we have fought for an integrated facility with GP surgery, step-up, step-down, end-of-life and respite beds.
"In April 2017, we produced our ‘Coquetdale Cares – the Community’s Vision’. We have worked tirelessly to keep the health needs of our community in the minds of the NHS. The proposal that we have seen looks like it is our vision, but with ‘a cherry on the top!”
It is hoped the new model will be up and running by spring/summer 2022 and the trust will work with NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to finalise the proposal as soon as possible.