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Cornwall's health service is 'on the brink' as it struggles with 'bed blocking' crisis

By CMToby  |  Posted: March 01, 2013

Cornwall's health service is 'on the brink' says campaigner

Cornwall's health service is 'on the brink' says campaigner

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One hospital could act as an interim care facility and beds and lockers transferred from another in a bid to stem a "crisis" in Cornwall's health care, campaigners have said.

Beds were moved from Camborne and Redruth Hospital yesterday to ease bed pressure at Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske, the private firm that runs community hospitals confirmed today.

Peninsula Community Health revealed it is also looking at transferring ten beds from Launceston Hospital, which was shut last month after traces of the bacteria which cause Legionnaires Disease were discovered.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) also said today that St Michael's Hospital in Hayle may be used to care for adult patients who have recovered sufficiently but were not yet ready for discharge.

Graham Webster from Health Initiative Cornwall, said Cornwall's acute hospitals were in crisis. "We are on the brink," he said.

"Somebody somewhere has got to get a grip of the situation. Lezli Boswell (RCHT chief executive) said yesterday one of the goals of the RCHT is to deliver high quality patient care, but she said that is no longer the case it is all about delivering adequate patient care."

The RCHT has an agreed escalation plan when there is a degree of demand for beds, meaning its priority is on care for those in urgent need, leading to postponements to planned admissions. The policy is reviewed daily and patients contacted directly.

A spokeswoman said it also had plans which allowed it to create extra beds in suitably equipped wards which would normally only operate during the week but close at weekends or night.

She added that when there were postponed theatre lists, staff worked flexibly to care for patients in the additional beds.

PCH said it had looked in to the possibility of moving beds and lockers from Poltair Hospital in Madron yesterday, which has been temporarily closed since October, but it was not practical logistically.

Instead, a spokeswoman said the social enterprise was looking in to utilising beds at Launceston which was shut down after two sources of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires Disease, were discovered last month.

A spokeswoman for PCH said: "Logistically it's not been practical to move beds from Poltair. Instead, we are looking in to the idea of utilising beds at Launceston as required."

Cornwall Councillor Mario Fonk, who sits on the health and adults overview and scrutiny committee, said he had never known a situation so bad.

He said: "Any surgery that's cancelled is a bad thing. Can you imagine people getting prepared, taking days off work to prepare for an operation? If community beds were managed then RCHT would be able to discharge patients quickly. It's a vicious circle."

RCHT Chief Executive, Lezli Boswell said the trust apologised to any patients whose planned surgery was postponed.

She said: "The position we face today is entirely avoidable.  A key issue is the inability to discharge patients who are ready to go home with packages of care or on to alternative care settings such as community hospitals or nursing homes."

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