GP beds at risk in Much Wenlock – update 3

This is the third update on my campaign to maintain the GP beds at the Lady Forester Nursing Home in Much Wenlock.

In mid-August we learned that Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body’s 10th August meeting agenda included an item named “Disinvestment and Decommissioning Decision Paper”.

It opened by saying “Due to the current challenging financial climate, it is important for the CCG to demonstrate that it is making the most effective use of public money to commission the right care, in the right place, at the right time within the context of our resources, and in order to deliver our statutory responsibilities, and meet the needs of the Shropshire population. To achieve this, effective commissioning arrangements and strong performance management are essential to meet these challenges, and secure the best possible healthcare for our local population.”

Specifically about our nursing home it says “Lady Forrester [sic] is located within The Much Wenlock area and the beds were initially commissioned as a local project created by GP’s 10 years ago to support patients to access resources within their own community post hospital discharge and for admission avoidance. The beds over the last 12 months have run at 100% occupancy and are a resource to support ICS with admission avoidance.”

Despite recognising that good care is provided more cheaply here than at community hospitals, closing this service in Much Wenlock “….In an ‘ideal world’ the recommendation would be to actually disinvest from the more costly community hospital resource. The reality is however that in the interests of expediency to release money in year the removal of the four independent beds from the system is the only option to rapidly release finances.”

In other words, our valued and value-for-money facility is likely to be sacrificed for a quick financial fix to get the CCG out of a hole.

In the past few weeks I have met the League of Friends, our MP Philip Dunne and Shropshire Council’s directors of Public Health and Adult Social Care for advice and support. I put a proposal to Much Wenlock Town Council’s September meeting that it should oppose the loss of these beds. I was interviewed on BBC Radio Shropshire on 23rd August. I have written to the CCG stating a concern that is doubtless shared by most residents of Much Wenlock and the surrounding area – that from financial, resource and care standpoints the proposed loss of these beds makes no sense. Dr Wentel, the Town Council and the League of Friends have also written to the CCG along similar lines.

The CCG board paper is riddled with errors – for instance, it’s actually the Lady Forester Nursing Home and the GP beds have been in place since 1990 when the hospital closed – not 10, but 26 years. I have asked to speak at the CCG Governing Body’s meeting on 14th September in Shrewsbury when the League of Friends also hopes to be able to present its very successful petition. There is a further CCG meeting scheduled for 12 October where is seems that the final decision on many of the cuts, including our GP beds, will be taken. These are not public meetings, but they are held in public should you wish to attend.

This may be the end of the line for the GP beds, but Much Wenlock will not give them up without a fight!