What next for Abbey ward?

THE closure of Abbey Ward at Whitby Hospital to trial a new scheme resulted in “a culture of mistrust; blame and lack of co-operation” according to a report being presented to health chiefs.

The damning appraisal is featured in a review of the controversial six-month “Hospital at Home@ pilot which ended in March and has since been rebranded enhanced community services and is currently being called enhanced community team pilot.

The report, which will be discussed at a board meeting of the NHS North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust on Tuesday, recommends Abbey Ward be reinstated because the proposal to treat patients at home rather than in hospital, which started in November, needs more work.

However, the Whitby Gazette understands it could be more than three months before this happens - despite assurances from the top that health care in Whitby would go back to how it was before the pilot.

Crucial to the PCT report were the findings of health experts who visited Whitby and Malton hospitals in March, where a similar scheme has also been implemented, on behalf on the National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT).

Their findings say: “The temporary closure of the wards within the two community hospitals has encouraged a culture of mistrust; blame, lack of cooperation and the essence of what is being developed for patients has been lost.”

Local doctors are not supportive of the scheme because of a lack of consideration about how the hospital could actually enhance health services for the whole community, the report adds.

Patient groups, such as Whitby Hospital Action Group (WHAG) are concerned it would eventually lead to the closure of the hospital because the downgrading of services would result in the service being financially unviable.

The report adds: “The PCT, for whatever, reason has lost the support of a number of key stakeholders who have seen the closure of wards (during the scheme pilot) as an attack on the viability of the community hospitals which threatens their long term future.”

It goes on to say that despite assurances from the PCT this wasn’t the case the body “have not articulated a vision for the future of their community hospitals...”

The PCT said it wouldn’t comment until after Tuesday’s meeting but referred to positive feedback from one patient who was treated at home meaning his confused wife could also remain at home and comments from the NCAT findings which say the PCT should be congratulated on trying to improve services in people’s homes.

County Councillor Jane Kenyon said healthcare should not be political adding: “I am delighted with the independent report because it confirms all that local members and the community of Whitby have been saying.

“The longer they can put off opening these beds, the more money they will save at Whitby’s expense and that is unacceptable.”

l What do you think?

Write to the editor or email: editorial@whitbygazette.co.uk