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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Concerns persist over closure of Carlisle community hospital

A politician remains concerned about the closure of Carlisle’s community hospital, despite reassurances from health bosses.

Carlisle reiver House photo
Reiver House

Elsie Martlew, deputy leader of Carlisle City Council, believes plans to close Reiver House and care for more people at home are short-sighted.

She has met with members of the NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) but said they have failed to set her mind at rest.

Although she would not comment on the details of the private meeting, Mrs Martlew said she was far from convinced that patients would get the care they needed without the unit.

Reiver House is a step up/step down care facility in the grounds of the Cumberland Infirmary. Following a successful pilot, the CCG has decided to close it and use the money saved to provide better care in people’s own homes.

But Mrs Martlew, who represents the Castle ward, said this would not work for everyone – particularly those who needed help using the toilet, were especially frail or had lost their confidence after a fall.

A recent e-bulletin sent out by the CCG aimed to address concerns about the plans.

It said that patients who were too ill to be cared for at home would instead move to a nursing home or their nearest community hospital.

Mrs Martlew said this was not acceptable.

“Another cottage hospital means Wigton, Brampton or maybe Alston.

“I know an 84-year-old woman who was in Reiver House. Her friends used to visit her on the bus. How could they do that if she was in Wigton or even further away?”

“I’ve no argument with the premise that the less time people spend in hospital is the best way, but some cannot be cared for at home.”

She also disputed claims that patients in Reiver House felt isolated because they were in individual rooms, or that there were travelling implications for families visiting.

“That’s ridiculous. It’s in the centre of Carlisle. They will have more problems if their relatives are in Wigton or a nursing home,” she said.

Mrs Martlew also warned other communities that their hospitals could be next if care at home was now favoured. “Are they going to close hospitals in Brampton, Wigton, Millom... and if not, then I ask again, why Carlisle?” she added.

A CCG spokesman responded by stressing that north Cumbria’s community hospitals had an important role to play within the new system.

He added that they had already begun extending out of hospital care, coinciding with a gradual reduction of beds at Reiver House over the summer.

“During the transfer four additional beds are being provided in a nursing home setting as well as the beds in community hospitals, including five in Wigton while staff undergo additional training. There are currently eight beds available on the Reiver House ward, and these will be reduced as more staff take up their new roles in the community, delivering the same high quality care within people’s homes.

“Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust staff will be working with colleagues from North Cumbria University Hospital NHS Trust, Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council and the third sector to provide an alternative to hospital admission where appropriate, and ensure patients also receive community rehabilitation services at home.

“Out of hospital care services have been commissioned by NHS Cumbria CCG following the success of the Mrs Carlisle Hospital at Home pilot project which was launched in September.”

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