David Laws has written to Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and asked them to re-open 57 community hospital beds which have been temporarily closed since last year, and to scrap the plans which will result in Somerset losing a third of its community hospital beds in South Petherton, Chard and Crewkerne.
Last year the Somerset Partnership decided to temporarily shut down 77 community hospital beds in Somerset, of which only 20 have very recently been re-opened due to pressure from David Laws and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group. The plans to permanently close beds follows a review published by the NHS which suggested reducing the number of community hospital beds in Somerset by a third – 102 of 312 total beds.
David Laws said of this decision:
“It is complete madness to have large numbers of community hospital beds closed, when these beds are urgently needed to move patients out of acute hospitals such as Yeovil and Taunton. The NHS should re-open all of the community hospital beds in Somerset, as a matter of priority, and make sure that no more beds are closed permanently.
‘I am very worried by the review which suggests closing one third of community hospital beds, when it is clear that these beds are desperately needed. At present, big hospitals are having to cancel numerous operations because they are effectively “full”, and do not have spare beds for people to recover in after treatment. Community hospital beds allow larger hospitals such as Yeovil and Musgrove to discharge patients when their operations have taken place and free up beds for other patients needing treatment.
‘We should not even be considering shrinking community hospitals when our acute hospitals are overflowing. I have written to the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group asking them to re-open all community hospital beds urgently and to drop any plans to permanently close beds in hospitals such as South Petherton, Chard and Crewkerne.”