Focus is on dementia at meeting

Anita Higham
Anita Higham

A public meeting will be held at Banbury Town Hall on Tuesday to discuss the future of services for elderly people, including the urgent issue of dementia and mental health problems.

The 7.30pm gathering is being organised by Anita Higham, chairman of the public engagement forum for the North Oxfordshire Locality Group (NOLG).

NOLG is a collection representing the 13 GP surgeries of Banburyshire, from south Northants to Shipton under Wychwood with Banbury and numerous villages in between.

Mrs Higham hopes the meeting will attract a mix of family members, carers and people with an interest in the growing issue of dementia within an ageing population.

“Dementia diagnosis is low – either GPs aren’t picking it up or family members are not wanting to go for help until significant assistance is needed,” she said.

Mrs Higham said the focus on the extent and kind of dementia services in the Banbury area warrants particular attention with the recent announcement by Oxford Health Trust that it is to close the 17 in-patient beds at the Fiennes Unit, on the Horton General Hospital campus.

Some day services and outpatient work will continue at the unit but those needing care in hospital will have to go to the Fulbrook Centre at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford.

If that is full, patients may need to go as far as Aylesbury for a bed. Oxford Health said the average stay per patient was 77.5 days, a reduction in duration of 20 per cent in the past six months.

The trust hopes more people can be treated and helped through home care services.

Mrs Higham said Tuesday’s meeting is especially important as people’s views should be taken into account.

“There was no public engagement with regard to this decision (on closure of the Fiennes beds). My group is seeking to learn whether the NOLG is listening to the area’s patients and how effectively the local people’s needs are being met,” she said.