Service Reconfiguration

09.03.18

Cumbria trust reveals hospital bed closure plans

Cumbria Partnership NHS FT has this week revealed plans to permanently close beds in three of its cottage hospitals, with the facilities expected to be replaced by more resources in the community.

Alston Moor, Maryport and Wigton & Solway hospitals have been under pressure as staffing shortages forced the trust to look for alternative methods of care.

The plans include the phased closure of all three hospitals between April and October 2018 – although Alston Moor has been temporarily shut for some time and has been operating a community model, which is reportedly working well.

In all cases alternatives will be in place as beds are closed, including boosting the provision of community and therapy resources; using residential beds as intermediate beds for health purposes; and increasing activity at the hospitals during the day.

Stephen Eames, chief executive of Cumbria Partnership, said the plans had been “complex” and involved working in a “very different way from usual.”

“Each of the communities are very different and have their own unique requirements and it’s fair to say they were all initially opposed to the beds closing with many still having that view,” he explained.

“However, with the decision now being made it is very positive that representatives have worked with us to draw up alternative workable plans that will enable us to provide more care within communities.”

Eames’ positivity was shared by Claire Driver, county councillor for Alston Moor and East Fellside, who added: “We are so grateful to all the people who came to the open day to talk about the plans and also to all those people who took the time to write or email their thoughts.

“As a group we are determined that this plan is something that belongs to the people of Alston Moor and not simply something that is being given to us.”

As part of the broader community hospital strategy that the trust is implementing, refurbishments at Keswick Community Hospital and Brampton War Memorial Hospital are also being planned and, due to the extent of the work required, inpatient beds at those hospitals will need to close while refurbishments take place.

Options to ensure that bed numbers across North Cumbria can be maintained while refurbishments take place are also being discussed and include using the empty space at Wigton as a decant facility.

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