Councillors to ask NHS to consult public over plans for no in-patient beds at Shipston hospital

A panel of councillors will ask the NHS to consult the public over plans to have no in-patient beds at a hospital in Shipston.
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Ellen Badger Hospital, Shipston-on-Stour, closed its doors in January 2022 in order to demolish and rebuild parts that were deemed beyond repair.

One part is currently being used by district nurses and a South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) spokesperson says there are plans to “temporarily reinstate some services into this existing building, including physiotherapy services” later this year.

Community beds, for patients needing onward recovery, rehabilitation or who are getting ready for discharge, were part of the initial rebuild plans.

Councillors to ask NHS to consult public over plans for no in-patient beds at Shipston hospitalCouncillors to ask NHS to consult public over plans for no in-patient beds at Shipston hospital
Councillors to ask NHS to consult public over plans for no in-patient beds at Shipston hospital

However, while the South Warwickshire Community Hospital Review recommends an increase in beds – 41 instead of the 35 that were in place at the start of the review, including those in Shipston – it is proposed that they are accommodated in Leamington Spa Hospital, Warwick, and the Nicol Unit, Stratford Hospital, Stratford.

The final decision is due to be taken by the NHS Coventry & Warwickshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) in July but Warwickshire County Council’s adult social care and health overview and scrutiny committee runs the rule over such work. It can question decision makers and make recommendations to the ICB and called up SWFT chief executive Glen Burley to explain the plans this week.

Mr Burley said evidence showed that NHS-supported recovery at home where possible is best but that the review suggested an average of 19 community beds would still be required, a number he “felt a little uncomfortable” with.

“Apart from anything else, that is an average and often, that is not what actually happens,” he said.

He went on to cite modelling, including figures that showed only 17 people from the Shipston area required community beds in the last financial year compared with 313 from Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth, arguing the new plan amounted to “an appropriate, safe recommendation”.

Describing himself as a “huge fan” of Ellen Badger Hospital, he stated “I haven’t given up" on relocating GP services to the redeveloped site and insisted that having no in-patient beds “does not mean the hospital will not continue to be busy and supportive of the community”.

“The small number of people who need access to community hospital beds is significantly dwarfed by the number of people who will use that service moving forward, and we will enhance the service offer,” he said.

“Our plans have to consider the entire South Warwickshire population and the needs of our community, hence the two locations that we think are best suited to do that.”

Earlier, Shipston Town Council’s John Dinnie queried why a full report had not been published on the review rather than a “recommendation with no supporting documentation”, while Stratford-on-Avon district councillor Dave Passingham (Green, Shipston South) expressed “considerable concern” on behalf of his residents.

He asked for a full public consultation and for the decision to be referred to government, asking: “Other neighbouring authorities managed to retain in-patient beds at local hospitals such as in Moreton-in-Marsh – why not Shipston?”

Councillor Kate Rolfe (Lib Dem, Stratford South) advocated asking the ICB to conduct a full public consultation, something that was supported by the committee without consent, and expressed her suspicion around the NHS figures.

“Isn’t it ironic that you stated an ongoing need for 19 beds as a minimum – guess how many beds the Nicol Unit has (now), it just seems odd the number is 19,” she said.

Councillor John Holland (Lab, Warwick West) reflected on the modern, technology-led ways of people recovering at home championed by Mr Burley but was happy to support a consultation.

“I think this is clearly a thought-out and positive step forward," he said.

“Working with local residents, winning hearts and minds by taking in ideas, suggestions and proposals, people will get behind it if they see their own ideas incorporated into a project.”

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