The Liberal Democrats have raised concerns that Abingdon Community Hospital could face a reduction or closure of its in-patient facilities as part of yet unpublished plans by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG).
We must do everything we can before the plans are even published to ensure Abingdon Community Hospital is safeguarded for the future. - Layla Moran
Phase 2 of the ‘Oxfordshire Transformation Plan’, expected soon, will examine Community Services. This will include neighbourhood teams and inpatient beds in community hospitals and nursing homes.
Phase 1 already saw the reduction in services at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, which was opposed vigorously by the local community, as well as a reduction in the number of acute beds at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
In a letter to David Smith, the Chief Executive of OCCG, Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, wrote:
“Given the national finances of the NHS, the precedents set by the Horton and the reduction of acute beds at the John Radcliffe, a reduction or even closure of in-patient facilities at Abingdon Community Hospital is not just a possibility but more a natural outcome of the Phase 2 review.
“As with the Horton, Abingdon Community Hospital is a highly-valued part of the community of Abingdon and its surrounding areas. Many remember the closing of its maternity ward decades ago and still regret its loss. The idea that it would be reduced in capacity or even closed would be devastating to the local community.”
In his reply, David Smith said:
"The Oxfordshire Transformation Plan is intended to ensure we have local health services that are sustainable for the future and are of the quality we all deserve. This is partly driven by financial pressures that are being felt across the NHS with funding increasing but not as fast as demand and needs are increasing. It is also important to note that at the same time, health care is changing and new ways of delivering care can mean better care for patients or more efficient use of resources"
He further added that "At this stage, I am unable to confirm any details as requested […]. I can confirm that we have been, and will continue to, fully engage and involve patients, the public, clinicians and others in developing plans before a further formal consultation."
Helen Salisbury, local GP and prominent NHS campaigner said:
"'The NHS has been told to save £20 billion over the next 5 years and that includes £176 million in Oxfordshire. Only half the planned cuts have been revealed so far, but these have already included removing maternity care from the Horton leading to further pressure on services at the John Radcliffe.
"146 beds have already closed across the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust, despite the hospitals being full to overflowing, and there are concerns that beds in community hospitals may also go under a policy that patients should be looked after in their own homes.
"There are not enough GPs, community nurses and care workers to make this work and there are real concerns that patient safety will be put at risk by these cuts."
Layla Moran added:
“We do not want to be left in a position where such an important decision is included in the consultation for Phase 2 without a proper assessment being done first on its impact on the local community.
"We have learned from the Horton, where the community felt that the decision was a fait accompli and despite huge public outrage the plans were not changed.
"We must do everything we can before the plans are even published to ensure Abingdon Community Hospital is safeguarded for the future.”