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Chief Executives reaffirm support for community hospital proposals

[T]he Chief Executives of NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have re-affirmed their support for the alternative proposals presented by the community groups which were endorsed at yesterday’s Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body.

In relation to the community hospitals, the Governing Body of the NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group decide to approve the preferred option (option 1) to close beds in Maryport, Wigton and Alston but crucially endorsed the work that has been undertaken by the community groups.

The Governing Body endorsed ‘”a process of co-production with stakeholders in each of Maryport, Wigton and Alston should continue.  It is anticipated that co-production will lead to further proposals within the next 12 months, as part of the plans to implement integrated care communities.”

NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s medical director David Rogers said: “A lot of consideration has been given to the work done by the communities of Alston, Maryport and Wigton and the Governing Body is very supportive of this continuing. In all cases there is some further work to do with our partners to develop a full business case, however the Governing Body were very clear in their support for the further development of the business cases.

“We know the current model of medical beds is not sustainable in those three locations. The Maryport Alliance has found a way to improve community services to reduce the reliance on community hospital beds However as part of the work we will be doing with local communities we will be open to, and want to, explore new models of using beds differently.”

“In Alston and Wigton there is more work to do with partners and communities to develop their options. This is very much the start of our journey to develop integrated care communities and provide more care outside hospital settings.”

Claire Molloy, Chief Executive of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “Following the decision, we are clear that changes will not happen overnight – bed closures will be phased in a planned way over the next few years, and the timescale is ours to determine.  We will only close beds when we are confident in alternative service models unless we have to in order to ensure a safe service.

“The decision has been significantly improved through the hard work, dedication and spirit shown by groups of people in our communities who have been willing to bring their ideas to the table and really get to know the challenges that we face.   I especially want to thank the community hospital league of friends in Maryport, Alston and Wigton, the Maryport save our beds and other local community groups, local GPs, and staff who have come together to find a way forward that gives our communities a better deal.”

Proposals for alternative care will now be progressed through the work of the community groups.  Any such proposal will required further consideration and approval by the NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group governing body and the broader west, north and east system leadership board prior to implementation.

Prior to yesterday’s announcements all Cumbrian MPs were briefed by the Success Regime about the future of Cumbria’s community hospitals and the implications for in-patient beds.

Rory Stewart said: “I have pushed consistently for the retention of beds in our community hospitals. I have also pushed consistently for the regime to engage with our Leagues of Friends and the excellent proposals from Alston and Wigton in particular on how to deliver services to our rural populations. The needs of rural areas are unique and require unique solutions. The community hospitals are at the heart of our communities and are justly loved for the wonderful service they provide. I will continue to fight for them tooth and nail.”

“This was an encouraging conversation – the Regime has been listening and they seem sincere in wanting to find a good solution which vitally
combines social and palliative care provision with the medical provision. But as always the devil is in the detail, and there are many players including the County Council who will have to support these reforms if we are to keep beds in places like Alston. So I will continue to be closely engaged and fight hard for these precious assets.”

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