Lack of community hospital beds could be 'unsafe for patients'
CAMPAIGNERS believe that without a 68-bed community hospital in Frenchay there will not be adequate provision for rehabilitation and convalescence beds in the Bristol area.
Barbara Harris, of the Save Frenchay Hospital Group, said that without the "safety valve" of the beds she believes provision will be "unsafe for patients".
But Liberal Democrat councillor and retired GP Jon Rogers told a meeting of Bristol's health and adult social care scrutiny commission, where the matter was being discussed yesterday, that campaigners and fellow members of the committee had become too caught up in the issue of provision of beds.
"The beds are not the main thing," he said. "It's the services that you want, and want to be assured that the services are there, even if the beds happen to be in people's own homes.
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"The decisions made five, ten or 15 years ago might not be the ones that are right or evidence-based for today."
Dr Rogers' comments followed calls from his colleagues for information about rehabilitation beds across Bristol to be provided in the future.
The discussion was part of an update on the future of a health and social care centre planned for Frenchay after the acute hospital on the site closes.
Ben Bennett, programme director for strategic development for the NHS in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, told the committee that the project was being considered carefully due to the "challenging" financial position the South Gloucestershire clinical commissioning group would find themselves in when they take over from the primary care trust next month.
He said the group would need to take steps to "become self-sufficient financially while continuing to improve health services for the local population".
"In this context all commitments – including Frenchay proposals – are being revisited to ensure they contribute positively to achieving a viable long-term position," he said.
Mr Bennett said the Frenchay project also had to be considered in relation to new services that have opened since the original plans were drawn up, including Yate, Cossham and Emersons Green, along with the new Southmead Hospital.
He said: "We don't want to have more duplicated community care at Frenchay or elsewhere and paying more than we need to for Frenchay."
Mr Bennett said the aim was not to start work on Frenchay from scratch again but that at this point he could not make promises about its future.
He said another issue that had to be considered was that in Bristol and South Gloucestershire people tend to stay in hospital longer than in other parts of the country and that "the right beds were needed in the right place" to deal with that.