Update from Halesworth Health – August 2015

We know it’s been a very anxious time for people recently. The Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) consultation document has caused concern and confusion but, following meetings between Halesworth Health and the CCG and then several public meetings, the situation is now more clear and reassuring.

The CCG have stated publicly and confirmed this in a clear written undertaking, that if they decide to close Patrick Stead Hospital it will not happen until suitable alternative facilities in Castlemeadow’s new building in Halesworth are up and running.

We have known for a long while that sadly the NHS will not invest in developing or modernising Patrick Stead Hospital, which provides excellent services, but is old and very expensive to run and maintain. We were warned four years ago about the increasing likelihood of closure.

Halesworth Health felt that if we did nothing about the threat of closure then Halesworth and the surrounding villages would lose lots of vital services, including the hospital’s beds. In reality, if the CCG did decide to close it we would soon have been fighting what would probably be a fruitless battle to keep the hospital open, but at the same time there would have been no land available for new buildings or any other investment in the local health economy.

Therefore it was important to look for an alternative sustainable solution, which involves Halesworth Health, along with the League of Friends of Patrick Stead Hospital, the Campus group and the Playing Fields Association, working with an independent care provider. Crucially however there will still be NHS beds within the new building – free at the point of contact. However people are not always aware that, although the hospital building and land is owned by the NHS, the current provider of services at Patrick Stead Hospital, East Coast Community Healthcare, is in fact already not part of the NHS as they are a social enterprise.

Castlemeadow Care, an independent care provider is, after a rigorous selection process, our preferred care provider. They currently run a variety of care homes in Norfolk, including beds for nursing and residential care, for people with dementia and for palliative care as well as some NHS intermediate care beds.

Castlemeadow Care is very excited by the prospect of being part of an integrated health and care complex and are prepared to invest heavily in Halesworth. Their purchase of the Dairy Hill playing field land for health and care facilities will also release funds to enable the Campus project to progress, so that new sports facilities can be built on the old Middle School site. Good sport and leisure facilities will also of course help to improve people’s health.

Halesworth Health has met the CCG frequently and they have backed our proposals, should the CCG decide to close the hospital beds. When Halesworth Health went through the process of selecting a care provider a senior CCG person was part of the interview panel.

The new building will be a 64 bedded health and care facility for various types of patient, including for palliative care, registered as a nursing home but including the NHS funded beds. The CCG have agreed that the local GP’s, in conjunction with the care provider, will determine the type of patient admitted to the NHS beds and then look after them locally, in order to achieve continuity of care. Halesworth Health has been very clear about the need for inpatient beds for when people really can’t be cared for at home. We feel, and the CCG have agreed, that these beds should be for patients of the same type, and the care of the same standard, as those for which Patrick Stead Hospital currently provides. Other people who require nursing care, respite or who need specialist care for dementia will all be catered for in the usual way in the nursing home.

We are insisting on retention of the numerous outpatient facilities and services, which are vital for this geographically isolated community. We have been promised that this will happen and are
looking at the various options.

Castlemeadow Care would also like to provide and run some ‘housing with extra care’ units. The process of their buying the land is very advanced; they have the necessary funds and hope to be able to apply for planning permission this autumn. If all goes well the new building could be up and running in 2017. The planners are well aware of the proposals and are generally supportive.
Halesworth Health is not going to be a provider of services. We are primarily a local group committed to securing services for the area and we hopefully represent the voice of the local health community and the general public. The GP’s locally will not have any ownership of the new building, but will provide medical cover in order to ensure continuity of care.

We share your concerns about a Lowestoft ‘out of hospital team’ model being used in rural areas but the CCG have said, and confirmed at a recent meeting with South Waveney GP practices, that they will not impose that model of care. Rather they wish to see local practices develop their own locally based version of an out of hospital team. This is really important, as rural needs are very different. We must ensure that our district nurses are adequately staffed and resourced as they also play a key role in keeping people at home.

So although we may all have preferred a brand new NHS hospital or a modernised Patrick Stead Hospital this is clearly not going to happen. The solution proposed by Halesworth Health will allow the development of modern integrated health and care facilities with associated ‘housing with extra care’ all on one site and crucially will maintain our NHS beds in Halesworth, but at approximately one third of the current cost to the NHS.

Please write to or e-mail the CCG with your thoughts; they have said not to use the questionnaire at the back of the consultation document as it it’s now too confusing. Let them know what you think but please remember that it is services and not buildings which really matter. This is an opportunity to develop modern facilities fit for the next 50 years.

Dr Richard Kell Chair, of Halesworth Health on behalf of the Trustees
Please contact us for further information via www.halesworthhealth.org or Cutlers Hill surgery