‘NHS changes will be good for patients’ says GP chief

Cavendish Hospital on Manchester Road in Buxton.
Cavendish Hospital on Manchester Road in Buxton.

A GP involved in a controversial review of local healthcare provision - which would result in the closure of the Spencer Ward at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital - says patients would be better off if the changes were brought in.

Proposals put forward as part of the Better Care Closer to Home consultation would see Cavendish lose its ten specialist mental health beds on the Spencer Ward, with care instead provided through a Dementia Rapid Response Team on call county-wide.

Dr Ben Milton.

Dr Ben Milton.

Eight community hospital beds on the Fenton Ward would become specialist rehabilitation beds and across the county there would be 44 Beds with Care in nursing or residential homes to replace the other eight.

Speaking to the Advertiser this week, Dr Ben Milton, chairman of NHS North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The population is living longer and there are more long-term health problems than there have ever been and the NHS is not set up to deal with this. Things need to change to help people and with the advances in medicine we can treat people at home and cut down the cost of having hospitals open.

“There are no facilities to admit a patient to Spencer Ward in the middle of the night at the moment, but we want to invest in a 24-hour consultant so patients will be better off, even if that means them travelling to Chesterfield, but we are working with the voluntary sector to make a plan.”

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He added: “My patients often tell me that they don’t want to go into hospital and doctors now know patients do better if they can avoid unnecessary hospital stays.”

He said the proposed service changes would include significantly expanding community-based care teams. “These will be called Integrated Care at Home teams comprising of health and care staff who will work together to care for older people, recovering after a period of inpatient treatment at a district general hospital following illness or an accident, in or near their own homes,” he explained.

The teams would operate as a hub and be made up of therapists, nurses, social care workers and doctors working closely with a patient’s GP.

The Spencer Ward, which deals with elderly mental health patients, could be closed down under the review, with patients being treated at home or travelling to Chesterfield for care.

Dr Milton said: “The key issue is trying to care for more people at home or in the community with the Dementia Rapid Response Teams (DRRT), so it would only be a very small percentage of patients who need the assistance of hospital care which would be travelling to Chesterfield, and

these people are probably already making the journey as the most advanced facilities are already at Walton Hospital.”

The proposed service change would introduce a DRRT which would work in the north of the county from 8am to 8pm to intervene when an older person with severe dementia is having a crisis, which would presently usually require hospital admission.

Dr Milton said: “There are no facilities to admit a patient to Spencer Ward in the middle of the night at the moment, but we want to invest in a 24-hour consultant so patients will be better off, even if that means them travelling to Chesterfield, but we are working with the voluntary sector to make a plan.”

In the initial consultation there was no provision for respite beds at the Spencer Ward, however Dr Milton stressed this was being looked at and the consultation was a work in progress.

When asked why Spencer Ward could not become a new centre of excellence, he said: “The DRRT aim is to reduce the need to be in hospital, so a centre of excellence would not be needed as the beds would be empty.”

The community beds on the Fenton Ward would be replaced with beds around the county in nursing homes or hospitals. Dr Milton said the exact location of these 44 beds was not yet known.

• For more information on the consultation, click here.