Beds are safe at Buckingham Hospital NHS confirms

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Reassuring news for Buckingham after years of waiting for local campaigners

There are no plans to axe any beds at Buckingham Community Hospital, Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust has confirmed.

The community hospital cares for patients following treatment at an acute hospital, particularly elderly patients who need rehabilitation before they can go home.

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But there has been widespread concern that the future of inpatient beds in Buckingham could be threatened amid plans for a new healthcare hub on Lace Hill.

The Advertiser's campaign in October 2018The Advertiser's campaign in October 2018
The Advertiser's campaign in October 2018

The Buckingham & Winslow Advertiser ran a Save Our Hospital Beds campaign in 2018, after the healthcare trust closed overnight beds in Marlow and Thame.

Buckingham Town Council supported the campaign and an online petition started by town councillor Anthony Ralph gained around 3,500 signatures.

At a meeting of Buckinghamshire Council's Health & Adult Social Care Select Committee on February 3, Buckingham West ward councillor Robin Stuchbury said he hoped the rollout of the community hub in Buckingham would not be at the expense of hospital beds in Buckingham.

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He told the meeting: "You did come and consult Buckingham in 2017 about the rollout of the community hubs.

Buckingham Community HospitalBuckingham Community Hospital
Buckingham Community Hospital

"None of that information came back from that consultation.

"You then went into an election in 2017, and an election in 2019, two election years in which the NHS do not do anything, and then pandemic.

"You've never come back with the findings of the community meeting.

"So I hope you're not going to proceed with rolling out a programme of the community hub in Buckingham, based on the removal of beds."

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And he added: "I'd like a bit of reassurance around that because it is a recurring question and it was a definite dynamic to that meeting in 2017 with the members of the public."

Replying, the chief executive of Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust, Neil Macdonald, said discussions around the future of healthcare in Buckingham had been "slightly more complicated because it got wrapped into conversations that we had as part of the Lace Hill development".

Mr Macdonald said: "As you know, that development has taken some time to come through and therefore we've proceeded to just watch and wait and see how that development would go forward."

But he added: "There are no plans to do anything about the community hospital beds in Buckingham, other than to keep them as a healthy and valued community resource.

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"But we do continue to have conversations, particularly with the two practices up in that part of the world, about future opportunities and developments in that space.

"But the two things are, I think, divorced from each other."

Councillor Stuchbury welcomed Mr Macdonald's assurance.

Speaking afterwards, he said: "After a number of years when the community have been asking the question, it is reassuring to hear the chief executive agree that the beds are healthy and valued resource for the community and should be kept.

"I'm sure all those people who have been wondering about this question will be reassured by his statement - though we always must keep monitoring the NHS, as we live in a changing environment."

And he added: "On a personal note, it is quite satisfying to finally get an answer to the question that has been asked repeatedly by members of the public for a very long time."