The promised Winter Pilot at Edward Hain Community Hospital in St Ives has finally got underway, with the first individuals to use the service starting this week. There have been six referrals to date. This is a rolling six-week re-ablement and social activity programme, tailor-made to each individual. It offers hot meals, foot care, continuation of a care plan, help with daily tasks, assisted bathing and social interaction. Transport, with an escort, is provided as part of the service. The service is offered five days a week Monday to Friday, working with Pengarth Day Centre in Penzance to provide weekend support if required. The service is available to anyone within the Penwith area (not just St Ives) who feels they may benefit from it and interested individuals are advised to seek a referral to it via their GP surgery or the Age UK helpline on 01872 266383. There is no charge for the service as the programme has been generously supported by the League of Friends of the hospital. Everyone is hoping the pilot is a success and evolves in to an all year-round service helping people to stay well at home for as long as possible and reduce the number of emergency admissions to hospital. We wish it every success.

Ironically, much of the fire safety work which originally brought about the closure of the 12 in-patient beds at the hospital almost three years ago now has had to be carried out, together with any outstanding maintenance issues including repairs to the lift and kitchen. This has all been undertaken and funded by the landlords of the hospital, NHS Property Services. The patient evacuation work subsequently demanded by the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has however not been undertaken as this is not considered necessary whilst the hospital is not being used for in-patients. Many Cornishman readers will recall the League of Friends of the hospital offered a financial solution at the time of closure to enable the patient evacuation work to also be carried out. West Cornwall HealthWatch understands this offer of financial support is still available in the event it is decided to re-open the in-patient unit at the hospital.

Meanwhile, members and stakeholders of the Penwith Integrated Care Forum recently met to comment on a draft document ‘Shaping our Future, Case for Change: Integrated Community Services Development: Penwith and Edward Hain Hospital’. This document, now submitted to NHS England for approval, sets out the plans and timescale for the development of options for integrated community services in Penwith, including the future use of Edward Hain, through informal discussions and a project group of professionals to work up proposals. At this stage the option to close and sell Edward Hain has not been ruled out as the document suggested that the hospital ‘was not fit for safe, high quality clinical care in its current form’. West Cornwall HealthWatch look forward to being actively involved in this process and will continue to argue for the re-provision of community hospital in-patient beds in Penwith whether they be at Edward Hain or part of a new build Integrated Community Care Centre within the area.

Finally, West Cornwall HealthWatch would really like to hear from anyone willing to share their recent patient experience of care following hospital admission or discharge to home, a community hospital bed, private nursing or residential home placement. You can do this by using the contact page on our website www.westcornwallhealthwatch.com