Chippenham – Save Our Beds

Save our beds
By Laura Williams

Dr Robert Muir and Dr Nick Brown who are part of a campaign to resist bed closures at Chippenham Hospital, along with patients and councillors

AN action group of patients, doctors and councillors has been formed to stop hospital beds being closed in Chippenham.

GPs fear newly appointed neighbourhood teams are already unable to cope and the situation will get worse when beds are reduced from 43 to ten.

A public meeting is to be held at Chippenham Town Hall on March 1 or 8 .

Dr Nick Brown, a GP at Chippenham’s Rowden Surgery, said that sections of the neighbourhood teams are not taking new referrals and so beds are being blocked in the hospital.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray said: “I am going to try and persuade the government that these are cuts too far and will result in a worsening of health care in the area.”

A letter highlighting fears has been drafted and Dr Brown wants as many people as possible to send it to Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Health.

It reads: “It is clear that local NHS managers, in their rush to meet financial and political targets, are completely disregarding the views of the local people, practice based commissioners and clinicians.”

Dr Robert Muir, a GP at Chippenham’s Lodge Surgery, said: “I’m extremely concerned about the future with the loss of beds. The neighbourhood teams, as hard as they try, will struggle to cope.”

Gladys Ferris’s husband Granville, 82, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease is a patient at Chippenham Hospital. She is worried about the care he will get when discharged.

She said: “We had several different neighbourhood teams come to help us but it was all so confusing.

One day we’d get a couple of nurses and the next none at all. And of course, there was no help through the night.”

A spokesman for Carers Support said: “The impact of all of this on the carers is colossal. The biggest problem is that the neighbourhood teams were promised to provide 24/7 care, but there are big chunks when this does not happen.”

Chippenham Hospital League of Friends representative Elizabeth Sexton said: “We would like to see the beds stay open because they are desperately needed.”

UNISON representative Roger Davey said: “There’s stress on the neighbourhood teams and staff morale is low.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire PCT said: “Patient care is our absolute priority. There is no evidence to suggest that Neighbourhood Teams have refused any appropriate referral. Patients will only be discharged when they are fit to be discharged, and when arrangements are in place for care at home.”

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