A TOWN’S community hospital is set to be used to help care for coronavirus patients – if all the beds at a city hospital are filled. The news that beds at both Cheadle and Leek community hospitals in the Moorlands could be re-opened to help with the current battle with Covid-19, comes after many months of campaigning by various groups for the community hospitals to remain open. In a statement made yesterday, Tuesday, April 14, a spokesman for the University Hospital of North Midlands (UHNM), told the Times & Echo: “UHNM is working with health and social care partners to set up an extension of its hospital care provision to manage its Covid-19 response within hospitals across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
“Together the NHS and social care are working to find additional acute beds locally.
“These facilities will be for UHNM patients who are COVID-19 positive and who require on-going care and will be staffed by health care professionals from the Trust, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) and wider system partners.
“A significant number of beds are likely to be used during the coming weeks providing Covid-19 services, that would usually be provided at UHNM, but because of the expected increase in demand, will be cared for at Haywood Hospital, Harplands, Bradwell, Cheadle and Leek Hospitals.
“Other facilities may be brought on line if required.”
Tracy Bullock, UHNM Chief Executive, added: “UHNM along with health and social care partners have agreed that the geography of the Birmingham Nightingale Hospital would not provide the best possible solution for our staff, who would have been required to help support the facility, or for our patients who would have a significant journey for the on-going care that they will need and that a local solution would be preferable.
“We have been working with our partners and our clinical teams to develop plans to put the system in the best place possible to care for all our patients locally in what we know will be extremely challenging times.”
Chief Nurse Michelle Rhodes said: “We are working with our partners at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to open additional beds available at community hospitals should the need arise.
“Currently we have more than 500 beds empty across both Royal Stoke and County hospitals, with 148 Covid positive inpatients therefore the extra capacity in the community will only be opened as required.
“Our staff have supported these changes and shown incredible flexibility, professionalism and dedication.”
We reported last month, that the North Staffs Pensioners’ Convention (NSPC) had launched a campaign to urge NHS bosses to consider re-opening up beds at a number of community hospitals in the area, including those at Cheadle Hospital, to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
Andy Day, a member of the NSPC said of the latest announcement by the UHNM: “We are very pleased that they are opening up the resources which the NHS has rather than going to the private sector and paying for it.
“We think this is very positive decision. These are purpose built resources that they have to use and they are using them.
“We do have some anxieties about how they are going to staff them, and about making them safe like all places, but that’s up to them.”
Mr Day added: “If it hadn’t been for the campaigns from different groups and communities in the area, such as those in Leek, Cheadle, Bradwell and ourselves, coming together to force them (the CCG) to consult properly, then the community hospitals would have been long gone and would not be here to be used during this crisis.
“After this crisis is over they need to rethink about community hospitals. This virus has tested us – the NHS planners and politicians have been found wanting.
As for the NHS staff themselves, Mr Day added: “They are everybody’s heroes.
“We all join in clapping for them on a Thursday.
“After this crisis is over, the public will demand that all care workers – NHS and social care workers – are all given proper recognition and rewards for what they do.
“Things have got to change, priorities have got to change.”
Cheadle Town councillor Ron Locker, who is a member of the Cheadle Hospital Action Group, had also strongly campaigned to keep Cheadle Hospital open. He told the Times & Echo: “I can’t see them building 20 new hospitals. They have got to utilise what we have got.
“It’s good that Cheadle Hospital will be put to good use and I hope it will be used for those in rehabilitation of Covid.
“And after this problem has been put to bed, I look forward to Cheadle Hospital being used as it should be again.
“With the economy as it is going to be, and the amount of money that is being borrowed, I think Cheadle Hospital’s future maybe determined by disaster.”
Cheadle town councillor Richard Alcock said of the news: “It’s about time – it should have been used when they finished the building.
“People can’t travel that far, those who don’t have cars and the bus services are not that good around here.”
However, cllr Alcock added: “It’s a shame that it’s taken a pandemic for it to be used again.”
Sir Bill Cash, who is the member of parliament for Stone constituency, which includes Cheadle, said: “I believe that Cheadle should have a hospital in any event but I am very glad that it is being brought back for the purpose of Covid-19.
“I hope that once established, it will be available for permanent use after the pandemic is over.”
We are the only family run, independent newspaper and magazine business in Staffordshire, established 1896. We are home to three weekly newspapers – The Cheadle and Tean Times (aka The Stunner), The Uttoxeter Echo and The Leek & Moorlands Echo.
We also produce Peeps into the Past, a bi-monthly nostalgic glimpse into our photographic archives, and three bi-monthly glossy lifestyle magazines – Stone and Eccleshall Life, Leek Life and Newcastle Life.
T. 01538 752214 or 753162
18 Tape Street, Cheadle, Staffs ST10 1BD
5 Church Street, Uttoxeter, Staffs ST14 8AG
(Uttoxeter Office is a postal address only)
CURRENT OPENING TIMES
Mon & Tues 9am-11am