Green light for next stage of plans for Rothbury Community Hospital

Health commissioners have given the green light to move into the mobilisation stage for the future model of care at Rothbury Community Hospital.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 6:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 11:08 am
Campaigners welcome the progress made on the future of Rothbury Community Hospital.

The approval, at Wednesday’s meeting of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body, was met with some reservations, but it was agreed to support the delivery of the proposals as much as possible.

As previously reported, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is planning to introduce a ‘new and innovative’ model of care with increased outpatient clinics, additional clinical and day-care services and, perhaps most importantly, a flexible bed approach by next April.

Professor Marios Adamou, a secondary care doctor on the governing body, asked if the CCG should ask the trust for details of a plan B.

He was informed of the response by Northumbria Healthcare’s chief executive, Sir James Mackey, when he briefed Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing committee earlier this month.

Asked the same question by Coun Trevor Cessford, Sir James said that there is a plan B but he did not want to discuss it, adding that when there’s too much talk about a plan B, it becomes plan A.

Tony Brown, the CCG’s joint north locality director, said: “I have the same reservations as Marios, but that’s because it’s such a radical plan. My preferred option is to focus on plan A.”

Margaret Scott, the governing body nurse, added: “My question is about sustainability and it goes back to workforce. What happens with winter pressures and bank holidays?

“I don’t want them saying, we can’t open a bed because of winter pressure or we can’t open a bed because it’s a bank holiday or Christmas.

“I want assurances that this is going to be offered to the people of Rothbury.”

She did accept though that it was about ‘managing expectation’, after Professor Adamou pointed out that ‘we don’t want to penalise innovation’.

The next steps include the trust presenting the full business case to the CCG’s governing body ahead of the start of the new model.

The mobilisation phase will also include a full equality and quality impact assessment, continued community engagement through a scaled-down version of the group which has met up to this point and the involvement of the clinical senate, a body which provides independent, strategic advice and guidance to commissioners.

The proposals for the future of Rothbury Community Hospital have come about following the trust and the CCG looking again at the future of the facility, after the Health Secretary ordered that more work needed to be done locally on the next steps.

This was in the wake of the permanent closure of the site’s 12-bed inpatient ward in 2017, one year after a temporary shut-down came into force.