South Gloucestershire Council to refer changes in Frenchay Hospital plans to Health Secretary
SOUTH Gloucestershire Council is to give notice that it will refer to the Secretary of State a health authority’s plans not to provide a community hospital on the Frenchay site.
The council’s public health scrutiny committee was furious at South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) decision to drop plans for an outpatient department and diagnostics facility to be located at Frenchay when the hospital closes next year, to make way for the new acute hospital in Southmead.
Cllr John Godwin (Con, Winterbourne) said: "The Bristol Health Services Plan (which originally chose the Southmead site over Frenchay in 2005) promised a community hospital on the Frenchay site and when the emerging themes came forward two years ago, it specifically said there would be 68 beds together with examination and procedure rooms, outpatients and diagnostics.
"It seems to me that this is a substantial variation and looking at it from a patient’s point of view, and the residents of South Gloucestershire, it is a negative variation."
The CGG maintains the change is in response to a growing trend for care to be delivered at home and that provision at Southmead, Cossham Hospital near Staple Hill, the Minor Injuries Unit in Yate and the private Emerson’s Green treatment centre will be sufficient.
CCG programme director Ben Bennett told the committee: "People spend longer in hospital in South Gloucestershire than they need to. We want to change that and we are seeking a flexible model at Frenchay to have beds when we need them.
"The main change is to focus local outpatients and diagnostics at existing facilities and having studied car and public transport access, these locations have good access and providing services at Frenchay won’t improve that."
Cllr Sue Hope (Lib Dem, Cotswold Edge) said a Freedom of Information request had shown that only 2.9 per cent of all outpatient appointments were at Yate, with 14 per cent taking place at Southmead and 48 per cent currently held at Frenchay.
She said: "2.9 per cent is pathetic. People do embrace the new model of care but they do have concerns about how it is being delivered."
After a unanimous vote, the CCG was given the opportunity to respond to the concerns at the committee’s October meeting and if members are not satisfied, the matter will be referred to the Secretary of State.
At the same meeting, an urgent motion to spend £2.4million a year keeping the 68 beds at Frenchay until an extra care housing scheme opens in 2016 was thrown out by councillors.
Cllr John Godwin (Con, Winterbourne), whose party proposed the idea, said: “Over the years those of us involved in Frenchay have seen the salami slicing of facilities. We really need to decide sooner rather than later to support Frenchay with our votes not just our sympathy.”
Cllr Shirley Holloway (Lib Dem, Thornbury South and Alveston) said: “The council is in considerable financial deficit. We have to save so much money in the next few years and then we are talking about giving £2.4million a year on this – it is totally unrealistic.”
The proposal was lost on a vote of seven against and six in favour.
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