GPs oppose cuts to community hospitals

The letter below was sent to Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the people who get the money to spend on NHS service here, in response to their decision to almost halve the number of beds in our four community hospitals: Whitchurch, Bridgnorth, Ludlow, and Bishop’s Castle. The letter, from GP practices in the south west of the county, appears to have had a real impact.

We’ve heard from a meeting today that the CCG have backed off and the beds are no longer under immediate threat. There are still cuts to fight, but this victory shows opposition pays.

Julian Povey and Brigid Stacey
Shropshire CCG Governing Body Board
Somerby Suite
William Farr House

Dear Julian and Brigid

We are writing to you as GP members of the CCG to express our concerns about the proposed plans to disinvest in community based care, as per your letter dated 29/3/2016.

The CCG board has signalled that it will be looking at reducing investment in community based care, in particular community beds, on the basis that the ICS teams have both the capacity and capability of absorbing this work.

As local GPs, and advocates for our patients, we have yet to see concrete plans in respect of how these care pathways will be designed; the safety of managing these patients within ICS; and the quality impact on patient outcomes expected.

Although we have considerable respect for the clinicians within the ICS teams, we do not feel that they have either the manpower, or the skill set, to manage these types of patients in the community. The only alternative therefore would be longer inpatient stays in the acute trust, with the inevitable negative impact on bed occupancy and AE  delays that this will cause as the flow through the trust slows even further.

Your letter also suggested reductions to the CHC funding. We are gravely concerned that at a time of financial austerity the CCG is looking to target the most vulnerable in our society.

We would be interested to see the modelling work on this also and whether discussions have taken place with the Health and Wellbeing Board and HOSC in respect of the wider community impact if care package availability is cut further, resulting in poorer support for patients and their relatives; alongside the economic impact on local businesses as relatives struggle to provide care and work.

Finally, as GP members of the CCG we are surprised that the CCG board hasn’t communicated earlier or more widely with us about these changes. As you are aware general practice is struggling to manage its workload and we feel it important to clearly state at this stage that we currently do not have the capacity to safely care for these patients if care is transferred into the community, as proposed, without proper resources and concrete plans.

Yours sincerely

The Partners Station Drive Surgery
The Partners Portcullis Surgery
The Partners The Meadows Medical Practice
The Partners Bishops Castle Medical Practice
The Partners Craven Arms Surgery

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