North Staffs Green Party today made public its response to the ‘My Care My Way Home First’ consultation launched by Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
In October the CCG announced plans to close 63 beds at Bradwell Hospital used to care for frail and elderly patients.
The move came on the back of threats to beds at other community hospitals in Cheadle, Leek and Burslem.
Health and community campaign groups expressed concern over the plans, as did several NHS staff employed at the hospital, the long term future of which is now in doubt.
The response states that the bed closures will have a ‘detrimental impact on the healthcare of the population of North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
Local Green Party Coordinator and author of the response Jan Zablocki said: ‘No one should be fooled into thinking it is just about more people living longer with more complex healthcare needs; it’s about much more than that.’
He added that: ‘It is about the future scale and shape of our health service. These bed closures represent a highly political agenda in which the NHS is being bludgeoned between the hammer of Tory privatization and budget cuts and the anvil of Labour’s massive PFI debt.’
The response highlights a number of problem areas in the plan put forward by the CCG, including the pressures likely to be placed on the Royal Stoke University Hospital as a result, particularly as services are transferred from Stafford to the RSUH site.
It also identifies a problem in relation to district nursing services being unable to cope with caring for more patients in their own homes, even though this is a key element of the plans put forward by NHS managers.
Figures obtained under freedom of information by the Green Party show that staffing levels have fallen dramatically between 2012 and 2016.
Concern regarding staffing was expressed in a report conducted by Sedgwick Igoe and Associates for the CCG in 2012 and again in a report by the Care Quality Commission in 2016.
Despite this CCG chief executive Marcus Warnes told a meeting of North Staffs Pensioners Convention in October that nine out of ten people currently occupying beds in community hospitals would have better outcomes being cared for at home.
North Staffs Green Party Campaigns Officer Adam Colclough said: ‘The CCG have not been honest with people about either the motivations for or the impact of these bed closures.’
Commenting on the announcement made earlier this week he said: ‘although any delay to the closure of the beds at Bradwell is welcome the problem of how to provide adequate community care when there aren’t enough staff available remains.’
Adding that: ‘Protecting the NHS is a key theme in Green Party policy and as a member of the Patients Congress I have raised this issue several times and will continue to do so until the CCG gives local people an honest answer.’
In conclusion Jan Zablocki said: ‘For those with their eyes and ears open the sirens are sounding and the blue lights flashing and the patient in mortal danger is the NHS itself.’