Meeting over Bucks hospital beds closures was under 'false pretences' says campaigner
A Buckinghamshire campaigner dedicated to protecting hospital beds across the county has accused the Trust of inviting them to a meeting under “false pretences.”
Back in July this paper reported that Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT) had closed the Chartridge ward at Amersham hospital on 1 July and were re-directing patients to Aylesbury’s Stoke Mandeville hospital.
This followed closely behind the closure of overnight beds at Marlow and Thame hospitals in 2018 in order to use the wards for the Trust’s Community Hub scheme.
Last Wednesday BHT held a three hour workshop attended by senior Trust staff, doctors and campaigners, advertised as a discussion on the potential re-opening of the ward.
However, according to health campaigner Linda Derrick who attended the meeting, it quickly became clear that this was not the case. Speaking to this paper, she said:
“After somebody got up and did the introduction, I realised we weren’t there to discuss the potential re-opening of the ward, we were there to discuss alternatives.”
She added: “It was quite obvious to me at the end that they weren’t going to reopen the ward. It’s a non-starter. The whole thing was a charade.”
In a further development, we have since visited the hospital after receiving a tip-off that the ward was being used for what appeared to be a Community Hub – precisely what campaigners say they had always feared was the real reason for the closure of Chartridge ward.
Navigating to the Bucks Healthcare Trust website, it states: “A key feature of the community hubs is the community assessment and treatment service. This service is now launched in Thame and Marlow.”
One might ask that if the decision had already been taken to open a community hub in the Chartridge ward then what was the purpose of the three hour workshop last Wednesday?
Speaking to Ms Derrick after our visit to the hospital and informing her of what we discovered, she said that she felt “deceived and misled,” adding: “Nobody mentioned a CAT, nobody mentioned anything that had been setup in the ward that was based on preventative measures. Is it a lie? It’s a lie by omission.”
Following the meeting last Wednesday, Ms Derrick had also posted a highly critcal article online about Bucks NHS Trust’s recent record, pointing in particular towards the current 98% occupancy rates of beds in the county. Linda wrote that this is “unsafe” since the recommended rate is 85% and further accused the Trust of “failing dismally.”
Ms Derrick concluded that the only solution is more money - “lots of it.”
We approached Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust for a statement and they sent the following comments: “We were quite clear in the invitation to the workshop that whilst we are still endeavouring to recruit staff to enable us to reopen Chartridge, we need to start to look at alternative solutions which provide the best possible experience and outcomes for our patients and which are sustainable in the long term. We were very pleased that Linda came along to the event as her contributions to the discussions were extremely valuable.
“The Trust was inspected by the CQC earlier this year and received a rating of Good with Outstanding for Caring. However we recognise that there always things that we could improve which is why we are keen to work with community stakeholders to act as critical friends to help us shape the services we provide for the residents of Buckinghamshire, making the best use of the resources we have available.
“We are continuing to review the situation and have been engaging with stakeholders to explore how best we can care for this group of patients should we not be able to recruit sufficient staff to enable us to reopen Chartridge safely. We will be going back to HASC with an update in November.”