Tuesday 11th June 2013

We are all aware of pressures on beds both at Treliske and West Cornwall Hospitals, resulting in ambulance queues, trolley waits, and the cancellation of planned operations. This is in part due to the reduction in community hospital beds, over 50 across the county, over twenty of which are at Poltair Hospital, as well as two at Edward Hain Hospital in St Ives.

Poltair has now been closed to inpatients for over six months. The company running it, Peninsula Community Health, has given different reasons for its closure over this time: first it was due to a staff shortage, then due to problems with the building, then awaiting the results of a review into community provision in Penwith, which has now been published.

We’re not actually sure what is their current reason for closure; but the fact remains that Penwith is woefully short of community hospital beds, as well as having inadequate community care which would enable patients to be properly cared for at home. This means that some patients are inappropriately being kept at Treliske, or West Cornwall, or alternatively are being sent home sooner than they should be.

We are seriously concerned about this. It is simply not acceptable to close needed beds without providing workable alternatives. This week’s St Ives Board meeting of NHS Kernow, the new GP-led commissioning group for the county, acknowledged that the current situation is unsatisfactory, but does not as yet have any plans for the future ready to be announced. So we will continue to press for this issue to be at the top of the health agenda, until we can be satisfied that our elderly people can have confidence in these essential services.