MP COLUMN: Moving hospital care for dementia patients is unacceptable

High Peak MP Ruth George outside the Cavendish Hospital.
High Peak MP Ruth George outside the Cavendish Hospital.

I attended the meeting at County Hall in Matlock, together with campaigners from High Peak and across North Derbyshire, to see the decision of the Clinical Commissioning Board (CCG) on the future of Spencer and Fenton wards at the Cavendish.

The decision was disappointing – especially as it does not seem to have taken into account the excellent record of both Buxton wards in supporting patients to return home.

But cost has had to be a factor, and North Derbyshire CCG are being forced to make £27.3million savings this year – over six per cent of their entire budget. These cuts form the background to the tough decisions.

I agree we need more support for carers at home. I hope that the proposed Dementia Rapid Response Teams do help to reduce the need for dementia beds in High Peak, but the board’s proposal that those who still need hospital care will have to use Walton Hospital in Chesterfield is unacceptable.

It is 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.

As my earlier meeting with the chief officer of the board had revealed that he had not visited the Cavendish wards, I have asked him to visit the wards with me to see for himself the outstanding level of care provided and am pleased he has agreed.

I have applied for a Parliamentary debate when Parliament returns and will see if there is any scope for this decision to be reviewed.

I am pleased the board has committed to run their proposed system and the existing wards side by side to ensure that the proposals work before any beds are cut.

I will seek to ensure the effectiveness of both systems is closely monitored. I hope that if the short turn-around times for assessment and support by both Fenton and Spencer wards are properly assessed, the board will realise our current service is cost-effective.

Monday’s decision will be implemented over the course of four years, so there is a long way to go, and I will carry on the fight to make sure the beds our patients need are provided here in High Peak.

On Saturday I held advice surgeries around High Peak. Most people who need assistance are suffering from cuts to our public services or welfare system. Both types of cuts fall hardest on people with a disability or special needs.

I will help wherever I can, and a schedule of my future surgeries is on my website www.ruthforhighpeak.co.uk.