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Column 30th June 2021

‘Test and learn’ pilots of outpatient services at Wantage Hospital replace the in-patient beds

The first meeting of the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) since the County Council elections took place last week with new membership.

The new Chairman of the Committee is Councillor Jane Hanna OBE (one of our local Liberal Democrat County Councillors) and the Deputy Chairman is Councillor Jabu Nala-Hartley (a Labour Councillor from Oxford City).

Both Councillor Hanna and Councillor Jenny Hannaby have been very vocal in their support for our Community Hospital at HOSC in the past.

One of the items on the agenda at the meeting was the status of the Community Service Strategy.

In this item, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust stated that in order to test plans for more accessible services to a greater number of people in the community, they propose to run ‘test and learn’ pilots of outpatient services at the Hospital, starting soon.

Current plans include Audiology, Ophthalmology, Ear Nose and Throat as well as Mental Health services.

In my statement I pointed out that outpatients need parking and the Hospital was built in 1927 and doesn’t have a large number parking spaces so these services would be better placed if they were located in the Health Centre on Mably Way.

Of course we are still waiting for the expansion of the Health Centre which was promised by the NHS in 2012.

In the report, much is made of the new care pathways and the provision of care at home but we are very unclear about the availability of staff to provide this home care to a reasonable level.

In the past, the inpatient facility in our hospital provided a very good reablement service thus ensuring that patients got out of bed and regained their strength and (more importantly) their confidence prior to returning home.

Replacing this full time service by one or more short visits each day by a carer often means that a patient may not feel confident to move around their own home or even get out of bed.

We have yet to see the evidence which shows that care at home (with current staffing levels) provides better patient outcomes for reablement than our community hospital used to.

Until we do, we will continue to fight for our inpatient beds to be re-opened.


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