Campaign continues for community beds

Midhurst Community Hospital, where some Adur patients have to travel to for community bed provision
Midhurst Community Hospital, where some Adur patients have to travel to for community bed provision

THE long-running campaign for community beds in Adur has taken a small step forward.

Adur district councillor Rod Hotton has been central to the campaign, including an attempt to keep the Harness Block at Southlands Hospital for the purpose.

He raised questions at Adur and Worthing councils’ joint overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, as part of an interview with Noah Curthoys, chief of corporate affairs on the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.

Mr Hotton pointed out the difficulty reaching available community beds, in Bognor and Midhurst, by public transport from Shoreham and Southwick and said he been calling for provision in Adur for some time.

Mr Curthoys said problems with buses were a powerful argument and it was important for the CCG to hear what it meant for communities.

“The more the voice is heard about this, the more it will be understood within the NHS quite how important it is,” he said.

Many GPs were also worried about having the right provision in right area, he added, but it was not just about community beds, it was about accessibility to services across the NHS.

He agreed to accompany Mr Hotton on a trial journey, to investigate the time it took to get to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester by public transport.

Councillor Liz Haywood, who works as assistant practitoner at Church View Surgery in Shoreham, said: “It is very hard to try to get my elderly patients to reconcile that their wives are God knows how far away in Chichester having a hip replacement when they have had to get to it at seven o’clock in the morning from Shoreham. It is a long way for an over 80-year-old.”

Mr Curthoys, who has been in the NHS for a year having previously worked at HM Treasury, said the CCG spent about £600million on beds across all health areas – community provision, acute provision and mental health.

The Coast West Sussex patch, which stretches from Shoreham to Chichester and out, covering about 60 per cent of West Sussex in total, has a total of 150 community beds, provided in the main by Sussex Community NHS Trust.

Mr Curthoys said the structure provided was aimed at keeping people out of beds where possible and in their own homes.

“What we want to have is a system where the beds are actually there for the right people and they can get to beds when they really need it. The structure we have is to ensure there is enough supply when people do need them.

“I appreciate it doesn’t always match up. You don’t always get the bed as close to you as you want.”

The CCG’s role was to ensure a better provision across the patch and that would take time.

“Are you going to close down services which are working well and move them, even though we might want to, or do you look at the wider provision?” he said.

He pointed out people had to travel for acute hospital services as well.

Mr Hotton said: “It is still concerning me that we are not addressing this as a problem and it is part of health and wellbeing, so I will be taking it up again with county on a regular basis.”