HOSPITAL: Community is still waiting

It was great to read that some hospitals in Northumberland are to be upgraded and improved with a £150million investment by the NHS, (Northumberland Gazette, July 19).

It was disheartening, though, to read the article alongside it about Northumberland’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Reading this, and also a paper submitted to Northumberland County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on July 12, we discover that after making much of the development of the ‘vanguard’ Accountable Care Organisation (ACO), this model of integrated care is now on ‘indefinite hold’.

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The Save Rothbury Community Hosptial (SRCH) Campaign team notes that the CCG and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are commissioning yet more consultants, presumably to help make still further cuts.

To quote the board paper submitted: ‘Carnell Farrar will be reviewing the affordability, deliverability and commitment to the 2018/19 operating plans, the capacity and capability for system delivery and facilitated agreement for us as system leaders on a way forward.’

So it seems that Carnell Farrar, a consultancy firm known for taking NHS funding while telling trusts how to make cuts, will be the only one benefiting from the dire financial situation of Northumberland’s CCG.

The CCG’s consultation around the ward closure at Rothbury Community Hospital was, to us, a farce, and the impact of the closure has been unimaginably sad for our community.

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The county council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee referred the whole matter to the then Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt in October 2017.

The case was passed to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), which made an initial assessment on June 7, passing its judgement back to the Department of Health and Social Care.

There has since been a change in personnel, and the community of Coquetdale is waiting (and waiting, and waiting) to see when Matt Hancock, the new Secretary of State, will allow us to know what the assessment is.

It is hoped that he will then ask the IRP to hold a full public hearing in Rothbury so that the whole of the CCG’s handling of the closure of the beds can be thoroughly examined and laid bare.

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This way, an objective and unbiased final decision can be taken that is based on factual evidence.

The campaign team is absolutely delighted that Northumbria Healthcare is investing in some of our hospitals, but we are frustrated and growing increasingly angry at the length of time it is taking for justice to be done in our little corner of Northumberland.

We feel we are being very poorly and unfairly treated.

Katie Scott,

Co-ordinator, Save Rothbury Community Hospital Campaign