CHEADLE HOSPITAL FUTURE CONSULTATION WILL NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL 2018
THE future of Cheadle Hospital won’t be decided until next year at the earliest, health bosses have revealed.
Residents are being given the chance to develop a series of options for the facility as part of a new engagement process which starts next month.
But formal consultation will not take place until 2018 – leaving the fate of the hospital shrouded in continuing uncertainty.
Almost 50 step-down care beds at the Royal Walk site were closed in September 2016 – a move slammed by nurses and paramedics in the area as well as patients, councillors and families.
Original plans to open a consultation exercise on all five community hospitals governed by North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in February and then May were scuppered by local and general elections.
Proposals for Cheadle, Leek, Bradwell, Longton and Haywood Hospitals have since been going though a rigorous NHS England Assurance process which has further delayed consultation on their future.
The CCGs say they are now in a position to move forward to the next stage and are planning to gather further views from the public and partners in a two-month engagement exercise starting in October.
They want to develop options for all five community hospitals, including Cheadle, from which formal proposals will be put forward to NHS England.
Formal consultation on the options and proposals will then take place next year.
Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer for both CCGs said, “Following extensive engagement on the ‘My Care, My Way-Home First’ model of care last year and the success we’ve had in ensuring we’re more appropriately meeting the needs of patients when discharged from hospital, we now plan to consult on future health and care needs, the community hospitals and the services they provide.
“Despite many rumours, no decisions have been made about the community hospitals and won’t be until after the consultation process.
“It’s our intention to design local services for local people with local people.
“I know this may appear a frustratingly long and drawn-out process, not least because of the delays caused by local and national elections and the assurance process, which is right and proper.
“But it’s important to get this process right and the CCGs remain confident that together we can build future services that deliver better outcomes for local communities, are sustainable and safe.”
Town councillor Ron Locker, a leading member of Cheadle Hospital Action Group, said further delays on the future of the facility were ‘incredibly frustrating’.
“The uncertainty has been dragging on for a long time and we want some answers,” he said.
“The CCG seems to be putting things off by holding another consultation period and I just can’t see the logic in it.
“Cheadle Hospital has an integral role to play in the future of both the town and surrounding villages and the Action Group is meeting health bosses in the next few weeks with proposals that might help them make a positive decision.”
Cllr Julie Bull launched a ‘Save Our Beds’ campaign to prevent the closure of wards and reduction of services at the hospital.
She said: “Staffordshire CCG seems to be using stalling tactics and keeps moving the goalposts.
“Their idea of consultation has been seriously flawed since the start and we’re still in a position where they’re claiming to be consulting yet again even though no one seems to know what they’re proposals are.
“It’s very disheartening to say the least – how can we hope to put together a plausible argument if we don’t yet know what they want to do?”
Town Mayor Phil Routledge added: “The issue of the hospital’s future seems to have been dragging on for a long, long time.
“But at least hospital bosses are planning to give people in the town their say and, once this latest consultation starts, I’d urge everyone to do what they can to make sure we continue to have such a facility in Cheadle in future.”
Details on the engagement and consultation process will be revealed ‘over the next few weeks’.
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