The referral of the decision to close 12 in-patient beds at Rothbury Community Hospital to the Secretary of State is a victory for common sense and local democracy.
The Clinical Commissioning Group seems determined to close this small, but valuable facility, having previously closed the minor injuries unit.
Perhaps it is the intention to eventually close all community hospitals. Who will be next – Berwick, Morpeth Whalton ward?
The CCG embarked on a ‘consultation’ exercise, consulting on only one of five options, not surprisingly the option it chose – to close the hospital.
Having received 5,000 objections and not one single person or organisation in support of closure, the CCG went ahead with closure anyway.
The CCG claims that closure will save £500,000 a year in nursing costs.
However, having redeployed the nurses, it admitted that this ‘saving’ is simply from one budget and not an overall saving to the health service.
At the same time it ignored the continuing £600,000 a year PFI costs for a hospital that would no longer exist.
It is difficult to see how closure will save any money at all.
The CCG proposes to replace the hospital with a Health and Wellbeing Centre, but even before the county council scrutiny committee, and after 18 months to think about it, it was unable to say what services this would provide, apart from a GP surgery.
Well, we have a GP surgery already thanks.
The CCG was recently judged ‘inadequate’ by NHS England. This comes as no surprise to residents of Coquetdale.
Might I suggest that we close the CCG, saving £500,000 per year (well, if the CCG can pluck figures out of thin air so can I), and open a Health and Wellbeing Group instead.
This new group would, as the name suggests, protect and promote the health and wellbeing of patients and local communities – unlike, I would suggest, the current blinkered Clinical Commissioning Group.