This article is an update following the announcement in March from the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) to temporarily close the inpatient beds at Holsworthy Hospital on safety grounds, due to low bed occupancy, and staff retention issues. Following the period of purdah, due to the general election, the Trust, along with Town, District and County Councillors formed a stakeholder group to consider all the requirements necessary to reopen the inpatient beds at the Hospital.
The composition of the group comprises not only the councillors and members from the Trust but also the local GP practices, League of Friends and key community representatives, and is coordinated through an independent chairperson. You will find a list of the names of the group members at the end of this article.
The group first met in July with the main aim of ensuring that all members were brought up to date with the latest situation, to hear statements, concerns and information surrounding the decision to close the beds and to agree the terms of reference for the future.
The two key elements of focus for the group are: 1. To work to understand the reasons for the decreased occupancy and how this could be reversed to reach the number of appropriate patients needed to reopen the beds and 2. To charge the Trust with ensuring that sufficient staff are available once the occupancy issues have been resolved.
The group has now met on four occasions with specific actions being taken towards the terms of reference. Patient feedback and data has been received through the Town’s Mayor which has been analysed by the Trust. The Group has also written to all neighbouring hospitals to understand whether people had been denied access to the Holsworthy inpatient services in the past. Unfortunately, information was not forthcoming so at the meeting in August it was agreed to formalise the requests through freedom of information letters, to relevant parties, from the group through the Chair. We are hopeful of responses by the time the group meets again at the beginning of November.
The group is also looking at referrals to the hospital from the primary care sector, in particular the surgeries in Holsworthy and Black Torrington. With data on the table at the September meeting regarding GP/patient experiences the Trust is now contacting other neighbouring GP practices to establish whether referrals from their practice catchment area to Holsworthy Hospital would contribute towards defining a greater need for beds at the hospital. We are asking all local GPs to collect data on patients they feel need a bed, the reasons why and what care was put in place to meet their needs in the absence of beds, so the Group can collect a running total of patient need.
In order to reopen the beds at a minimum occupancy level of 80%, there needs to be around one new patient being admitted each day. The group is working to identify whether there are is a sufficient patient cohort whose care would best be provided in Holsworthy Community Hospital to reach this 80% occupancy level.
The community in Holsworthy and its environs may perceive progress to be slow and the group will admit that there has been some frustration regarding the pace of developments to date. However, a great deal of work has happened behind the scenes, and the delays due to the elections and the summer holidays are now behind us.
At the September meeting, the Chief Executive of the Trust, Dr. Alison Diamond, attended and reiterated her continued support to providing the resources in order to bottom out the analysis surrounding patient availability. She has also spoken on our behalf to the NEW Devon CCG and the Operations Director will be invited to attend the November meeting to establish how they may assist in ensuring that all pathways are covered regarding patient availability and placement.
The group meetings have not always seen total accord however after only four sessions, the bedding in and understanding of people and their personalities, it is now proving to be a useful forum working constructively towards the common goals. All members are given an equal voice and all voices are heard. Details of the groups discussions and key communication points can be found on the NDHT website at https://www.northdevonhealth.nhs.uk/have-your-say/Holsworthyengagement/
Please use the website as your first port of call for information as it is regularly updated. In addition, all group members have all agreed that they are willing to be contacted regarding any questions people may have regarding the group’s activities.
Steve Holt – Independent Chair
Stakeholder Group Members
|Independent Chair||Steve Holt|
|Devon County Council||Barry Parsons|
|Torridge District Council||Phillip Hackett|
|Torridge District Council||Peter Watson|
|Holsworthy Mayor||Jon Hutchings|
|Holsworthy League of Friends||John Allen|
|Holsworthy Medical Centre||Rob Shaw|
|Blake House Surgery||Alan Howlett|
|North Devon Hospice||Keely Dempsey|
|Patient rep||Penny Smith|
|Community Rep||Sue Banks|
|Holsworthy Town Council||Geoff Cusick|
|Holsworthy Hospital||Amanda Jennings|