A passionate and vocal crowd has called on health chiefs to halt plans which could see the closure of the Spencer Ward and reduced beds on the Fenton Ward at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital.
The public meeting took place in the Pavilion Gardens on Wednesday and was the second in Buxton to discuss the Better Care Closer to Home proposals.
Dr Ben Milton, chairman of NHS North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a GP at Darley Dale Medical Centre, said: “The last meeting in the Pavilion Gardens had the highest attendance and we know you are genuinely interested in what is happening and that is why we have come back.”
If the plans go ahead, Cavendish Hospital could lose its ten specialist mental health beds on the Spencer Ward as care would be provided through a Dementia Rapid Response Team on call county-wide between 8am to 8pm, with admissions being made to Walton Hospital in Chesterfield.
Eight community 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 home to replace the other eight, at locations as yet unknown.
Campaigner Brendan McGrath kicked off the question and answer session by asking about the Dementia Rapid Response Team, which is currently in use in South Derbyshire.
He said: “Why was the prototype for the Buxton Rapid Response Team never tried? The model is based in a city but this is a more rural area and it will be unequal treatment because of our location.”
Dr Milton said: “The proposal is not purely financially-based. If it was, there would be no beds in Buxton, but we have already changed our ideas as that is not practical.” Paul Stevenson questioned the care people would receive after 8pm. He said: “I welcome the rapid response team and think it will be beneficial, but what about when a person needs care out of those hours?
“It would be too far to make someone with a physical injury travel to Chesterfield, and we are talking about the most vulnerable people going to Walton. We need to keep beds in the High Peak.” David Newt, from New Mills, told the meeting he had seen first-hand the devastating effects of both dementia and Parkinson’s Disease while caring for his wife.
He said: “I feel like I have had the rug pulled from underneath me recently.
“My wife was on a geriatric ward at Stepping Hill Hospital for ten weeks because she was out of the area as a Derbyshire patient and was left neglected.
“After finally getting her transferred to Cavendish she was up and dressed and washed, and two weeks later she was home.
“This is because of the excellent care she received and also knowing she was closer to home.
“There is an old saying that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and the Spencer Ward isn’t broken.”
Chris Hallam lost his father to dementia and wanted to know where the Beds With Care would be located around the county.
He said: “When he (my father) was in the Spencer Ward I saw him daily, and I couldn’t have done that if he was further away.
“Dementia is not a short-term problem and it is unacceptable to make loved ones travel because the service could be taken away.
“Where are the beds for older persons with mental health issues going to be?”
The panel was unable to provide an answer, but said they were looking into it. Retired postman Mick Bonsall, from Buxton, said: “In bad weather people won’t be able to get to Chesterfield to see their loved ones.
“If they don’t drive they will have to take public transport, which for two people from the High Peak to make that return journey is £24.30.
“Leave the hospitals alone, people here know far better. We live here, you don’t.”
When asked where the two respite beds on Spencer Ward would be going, Beverley Smith, chief transformation officer for the North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We didn’t factor in the respite beds in the consultation and will look at how we can do it in the future.”
Community nurse Anna McGuigan said she was worried about the impact on patients and carers.
“When you have gone from being with a person every day, sleeping in the same bed looking after them and loving them, admitting them to hospital is a big deal,” she said.
“If carers knew their loved ones were going to be admitted to Walton Hospital, which is two-and-a-half hours away, rather than the Cavendish, I believe they would struggle for longer just to keep the person at home, which isn’t beneficial to anyone.”
A Fenton Ward staff nurse commented on the future of the ward, saying: “Although we are down to ten beds for the summer,we need the 16 beds in the winter. To halve the beds would impact on so many people, and I don’t agree with it.”
Dr Milton told the meeting that the proposals would result in better joined-up care closer to home for many older people in North Derbyshire.
“My patients often tell me that they don’t want to go into hospital and doctors now know that patients do better if they can avoid unnecessary hospital stays, which can lead to some older people never regaining their independence,” he explained.
“Medicine has changed over the years. Much of the care traditionally provided in community hospitals is just as safe to give at home where many patients prefer to be.
“It means more older people can still receive the quality of care that they need, from an expert team based in the community.”
New on the panel for the meeting was Dr Justin Walker, from Stewart Medical Centre, who is a mental health lead for the CCG.
He said: “Some people are going to lose out and that is a crying shame, but I will do my level best to look after people in Buxton.
“I believe delivering the Better Care Closer to Home proposals is good news and will beef up the services that are already available to people.”
He applauded people’s passion and said he felt he could be more influential advising the panel than the other side of table.
He said: “No-one enjoys the bricks and mortar of Cavendish, no-one enjoys the walk up the steep hill, but people value the service and the people.
“I really believe we can still have the same people, the same familiar faces and places, but it doesn’t have to be in that specific setting.”
When challenged on the future of Cavendish Hospital as a whole, he assured the meeting that a full closure was not on the cards.