Leicester Mercury

Fear of ‘health desert’ under hospitals plans

- By STAFF REPORTER leicesterm­ercury.co.uk

CAMPAIGNER­S fear proposed changes to Leicester’s hospitals could turn Rutland into a “health desert”.

Rutland Health and Social Care Policy Consortium said the proposals sent out for consultati­on do not provide residents of the county with enough informatio­n to make an informed judgement on their future healthcare services and where they will be located.

Jennifer Fenelon, chairman of the consortium, said: “We are delighted Leicester hospitals have been offered a large capital sum to improve their buildings.

“But the closure of acute beds and services at Leicester General only addresses one part of the equation.

“Government policy is to keep acute hospitals for the very ill, while moving the care of recovering patients back to the community.

“Rutland people think that is sensible, especially as the consultati­on document states a third of the acute beds in Leicester are occupied by patients who do not need to be there.

In September 2019 we convened a

meeting to establish the requiremen­ts for our population.

“The group identified 10 priorities. An undertakin­g was given that the clinical commission­ing group (CCG) would, with residents, develop a health care plan for our county by January 2020.

“This has not happened, though we are now informed this might happen imminently.

Should the plan be forthcomin­g, it is essential acute hospital and community strategies are looked at together, and that integrated services are provided for Rutland.

“The plans suggest all the inpatient beds at Rutland Memorial Hospital will be closed and the hospital site will be purchased by Rutland County Council.

“No informatio­n has been provided as to what will replace these facilities, or improve them to make up for the planned loss of nearby services at Leicester General.

“It is our view it is unreasonab­le for the CCG to seek to hold a formal consultati­on process on its acute reconfigur­ation plan, when our residents have received, at best, only a partial picture of what their overall future health services might comprise.

“At a meeting there will be not only an opportunit­y to put questions to Andy Williams, chief executive of Leicester, Leicesters­hire and Rutland Clinical Commission­ing Groups, but also to review those 10 priorities.

“Our objective, as a group, is simply to ensure an informed debate takes place on this important issue for our community.

“Government policy is all about integratio­n, so we are urging an extension of the current consultati­on, partly to correct some glaring shortcomin­gs, but also to look at proposed healthcare facilities in the round.

“We are told this is a once-in-ageneratio­n opportunit­y, so we want future provision planned with care.”

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