A COMMUNITY leader in a Moorlands town is backing a campaign groups’ plea for community hospital beds to be re-opened during the current coronavirus outbreak. The North Staffs Pensioners’ Convention (NSPC) is urging NHS bosses to consider re-opening up beds at a number of community hospitals, including those at Cheadle Hospital, to help in the fight against the coronavirus. And Cheadle councillor Ron Locker, who is a member of the Cheadle Hospital Action Group, is backing the association members in their campaign.
The NSPC has, for many years, campaigned with others across North Staffordshire, against the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups’ closure of community hospitals.
Andy Day, Co-ordinator of the NSPC, said it is time to put ideology to one side: “At a time when the NHS is considering paying private hospitals to accommodate patients to help deal with this unprecedented crisis, it is surely appropriate to utilise these NHS resources that are currently sitting empty.
“We still have a little time before the virus gets a grip so we ask the Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England to urgently consider reopening the 184 beds at Leek, Cheadle, Longton and Bradwell, even if only on a temporary basis.”
Ian Syme, of the campaign group ‘North Staffs Healthwatch’ also urged the authorities to act. He said: “These beds could be employed for convalescence after people come out of the acute hospital (Royal Stoke locally) thus freeing up beds for those who need intensive care due to corona virus infection and thus easing the pressure on Royal Stoke Hospital during the crisis.”
Cllr Locker, who is a member of Cheadle Town Council, told the Times and Echo: “Cheadle Hospital is rightly situated to look after people who have been ill – to re-establish themselves and to get better.
“My wife and I have both benefitted from Cheadle Hospital when we have been ill. The beds there should never have been closed in the first place.
“It is a sad state of affairs when they shut community hospitals.”
As for the Government spending money in building temporary hospitals like the Nightingale in London, cllr Locker said: “We desperately need help now and there are buildings there standing doing nothing.
“Cheadle Hospital could certainly help the country and definitely local people, and so too could Leek and Longton Hospitals.
“These places have been wasted – they seem to have been forgotten.
“It’s illogical thinking with spending money on building new hospitals.
“You could easily have a capacity of 60 or 70 beds at Cheadle Hospital. And there’s the car parking there too.”
Cllr Locker added that he fully supports the NSPC campaign in urging NHS bosses to consider re-opening up beds at a number of community hospitals. He added: “The Pensioners’ Convention is a good voice.
“There’s lots of pensioners here in Cheadle, like across the country, who are worried at the moment.
“If they knew there would be facilities on their door step it would be a little bit better.”
A spokesman from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “Many additional facilities and resources are being considered to help equip the NHS to treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Local decisions will be made on the basis of local need.”
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