SENIOR medics say the new NHS boss’s recent endorsement of grass-roots hospitals is “good news” for Gloucestershire.
Simon Stevens has recently taken up the chief executive post and says the health service must stop closing community hospitals and return to treating more patients in their communities.
He recognises the NHS must expand local services because he believes too many patients are being robbed of “dignity and compassion.”
Despite stating that British hospitals have become among the worst in the continent at caring for local people due to cut backs and centralisation, ‘cottage’ hospitals in Gloucestershire have received recent investment.
Susan Field, director of service transformation for Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, said: “Over the last three years, significant investment has been made in community health and social care services in Gloucestershire, and we plan to continue investing in high quality facilities across the county.
“The announcement from NHS England is good news for Gloucestershire, which has seven community hospitals providing a central focus for health and social care services in the local neighbourhood.
“As part of continuous investment in community services across the county, we have three new, purpose-built sites – the North Cotswolds, Tewkesbury and Vale Community hospitals – and, across all seven community hospitals, the range of services provided continues to grow and develop to keep pace with local need.
“The role of the modern community hospital is one that is continuously evolving.”
The trust has invested £30million in the three new sites and runs community hospitals in Stroud, Cirencester and Cinderford and Lydney, which are both in the Forest of Dean.
Mr Stevens said Britain must follow the lead of Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States which have pioneered ways of bolstering community care around small hospitals to meet the needs of local people. The former health advisor to Tony Blair said a growing number of elderly people are ending up in hospital needlessly because they had not been given the care which could have kept them at home. He said: “A number of other countries have found it possible to run viable local hospitals serving smaller communities than sometimes we think are sustainable in the NHS.
“Most of western Europe has hospitals which are able to serve their local communities, without everything having to be centralised.”
The European Working Time Directive, which limited hours worked and set a minimum rest period, damaged health care and made it harder to keep hospitals open.
Marion Andrews-Evans, executive nurse at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have always recognised the importance of local community hospitals in providing a range of key services, including rehabilitation care, diagnostics, nursing and therapy services and minor injury services.
“Increasingly, we will see our hospitals specialise in certain services for the benefit of Gloucestershire residents and provide a real community focus.”