Campaigners fighting to save an inpatient ward at their village hospital have unveiled a grand plan in a desperate bid to persuade NHS bosses to reopen the unit.
The Save Rothbury Hospital Campaign group wants to turn the hospital into an innovative and forward-thinking community health hub, to become north Northumberland’s social care and health facility.
Under the banner of Coquetdale Cares, the vision is to develop the facilities at the hospital by bringing GP surgeries, clinics and palliative and social care under one roof.
It comes after the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust temporarily closed the 12-bed ward in September, due to ‘the low use of inpatient services’.
The unit is still closed and a public consultation on the future of the inpatient ward is due to start soon. Northumberland CCG says it welcomes the group’s proposal.
A spokesman for the campaign group said: “There is a strong case to develop the facilities at the present Rothbury Community Hospital.
“There is an opportunity presenting itself where we can provide a new centre of excellence which could serve a wide area of rural population where there are few medical or social-care facilities at present.”
The group says that the hub would provide space for clinics and clubs throughout the day and there could be classes to enable and empower patients with long-term conditions to take more responsibility for their own care.
The group says that clinicians would be able to suggest alternative approaches, such as social prescribing, and could link Coquetdale patients with non-medical support in the community. The group suggests that the staff would work as a team with a range of nurses to provide a comprehensive service for north Northumberland.
The vision would be for the innovative unit to deliver expert care for people, predominantly the elderly, who require inpatient support.
The group says that the 12 beds on the first floor of the hub would be multifunctional; used for palliative and social care, for those who need rehabilitation before transferring home; and for those who choose to end their days ‘in the safe haven which is Coquetdale Cares’.
It is suggested by the group that the multi-disciplinary hospital team would provide specialist support and rehabilitation for patients.
To boost user numbers, the group suggests extending the catchment area, to include the likes of Shilbottle, Wooler, Longhorsley and Longframlington.
The Northumberland CCG says that the public consultation will provide an opportunity for everyone to have their say and ensure the best option for the future use of the hospital building is achieved and is being used to its full potential.
• Data released by NHS Digital shows almost 1.2million attendances at A&E departments across the region during 2015/16, representing an overall increase of more than 43,000 attendances since 2014/15.