A Chipping Norton campaigner criticised county councillors last week for failing to challenge threats to the town’s community hospital.
Clive Hill, chairman of Chipping Norton Hospital Action Group told Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee: “Chipping Norton has lost 14 NHS sub-acute intermediate care beds which OCC documents indicate was done so the Orders of St John Trust (OSJ) could subsidise the care home.
“You all signed off on a ‘Provider Change Only’ yet the service provided by the OSJ is significantly below what was provided by Oxford Health NHS Trust. The type of patients treated has been restricted because OSJ do not have sufficient qualified staff.
“Emergency drugs have been returned to the NHS because OSJ cannot use them. The ‘crash trolley’ used to revive patients has been removed by OSJ - a danger to patients’ lives,” said Mr Hill.
“Oxford Health dealt with emergencies in-house - now OSJ makes a 999 call to an already over-stretched ambulance service.
“OCC promised there would be no reduction in staffing levels and staff would be dedicated solely to the Intermediate Care Ward.
“Reliable sources tell us there are fewer qualified nurses on the ‘down-graded’ ward and they are shared with the care home. This is breaking firm OCC consultation commitments and further diluting the quality of our healthcare.”
Mr Hill said patient restrictions and lack of trained NHS staff have blocked beds at a cost to the NHS he claimed was £750,000 a year.
“This ridiculous situation continues despite bed blocking being at a critical level.”
He said the successful, cost-effective intermediate care unit should be returned as before.
“Chipping Norton has all it needs on one site - beds, consultants, clinics, physio, maternity, GP surgery and pharmacy. It does not need reinventing but our beds need to be put back into the NHS. HOSC has the power and the responsibility to do something about this,” he said.