Campaigners have vowed to fight on after health chiefs rubber-stamped a controversial shake-up of healthcare provision which will lead to the closure of the Spencer Ward at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital.
Cavendish will lose all of its older people’s mental health beds on the Spencer Ward and eight community beds on Fenton Ward - with the remaining eight becoming specialist rehabilitation beds - as a result of the Better Care Closer to Home proposals.
Two respite beds will remain on the Spencer Ward in the short-term, but no new patients will be accepted and the service is to be ‘phased out’.
Campaigner Kath Sizeland said: “This is the worst outcome that could have ever happened and I’m so upset but we will keep fighting and hold the CCGs to account at every stage of the implementation plans now.”
North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Hardwick CCG met in public at County Hall on Monday night and unanimously approved the changes, which overall will result in the closure of 104 general community and older people’s mental health beds across five hospital sites in North Derbyshire.
The CCGs said they aimed to have replacement services in place before the beds are removed, expected by October 2020. This would see a Dementia Rapid Response Team on call county-wide from 8am to 8pm, and the community beds replaced with specialist beds with care throughout the county. Acute admissions would be made to the new centre of excellence at Walton Hospital in Chesterfield.
High Peak MP Ruth George, who attended the meeting, has applied for a Parliamentary debate on the bed closures.
She said: “Those needing in-patient care must not be sent 35 miles away.
“It’s not feasible for patients and their families to travel as far as Chesterfield. It’s not viable to ensure patients can be rehabilitated to return back home if that happens, as short-term visits and a gradual return are not logistically possible due to the travel distances. This is the wrong decision for any decent society to take.”
Justifying their decision, the CCGs said they had chosen the model as it made sense both clinically and financially.
Counter proposals of a Western Hub had been put forward to create a second centre of excellence for dementia patients on the Spencer Ward.
Clive Newman, director of transformation for Hardwick CCG, said: “We looked at this in detail but we felt a single centre of excellence can meet the needs of the patients.
“The Western Hub would cost £860,000, which is one third of the total cost for the Dementia Rapid Response Team for the north of the county.”
However, campaigner Keith Horncastle, who was behind the Western Hub plan, disagreed. He said: “The High Peak is going to become a dementia care desert and our loved ones deserve better.
“Spencer Ward’s influence is felt way beyond the walls of the hospital as they support patients who have been discharged, but I don’t believe Walton will be able to do the same owing to the distance between the two.”
Dr Ben Milton, chairman of North Derbyshire CCG, said: “Looking at how this has been implemented in the south of the county we only had one acute admission during the night-time in a seven-month period because there is more help and support in the community to stop people needing in-patient treatment in the first place.”
Speaking at the meeting, High Peak GP Debbie Austin said a provision needed to be put in place to allow families to stay over at Walton Hospital, but Keith said such a suggestion should have been considered beforehand.
Each CCG voted independently, but both gave their full consensus to the proposals.
The decisions were greeted by boos and jeers from the public gallery, and cries of ‘shame on you!’.
Gareth Harry, from Hardwick CCG, said: “We really value the staff who have been brilliant, but moving forward we want to retain, retrain and redeploy them.”
Dr Milton said: “I appreciate people are disappointed with the decision but it is one we have made in the best interests of patients and it is a strong clinical model which we believe will work.”
Beds will also be closed at Clay Cross, Whitworth, Newholme and Bolsover hospitals, with the latter two eventually closing for good.