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Watchdog to look at dementia unit closure plan
A WATCHDOG is to look into plans to close a dementia assessment unit by NHS bosses as more people get care at home.
The Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, which runs county mental health services, wants to permanently close the 18-bed unit at Newtown Hospital in Worcester.
Leaders of the health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) are set to discuss the plans at a meeting at County Hall tomorrow.
Members of the committee have already been advised in July that the ward had been below capacity with only nine or 10 patients. The ward was not considered by trust leaders to be the “best therapeutic environment”. NHS leaders had already introduced a temporary closure although during this time the ward could have been opened within 24 hours to admit patients if needed.
Part of the reason there has been less demand on the service, despite an increasing elderly population, is the NHS is now able to deliver care closer to home for patients, slashing the numbers of inpatients.
In June admissions to Berkeley were suspended and at one point there were only three patients in an 18- bed ward. NHS bosses then reviewed demand over three months following talks with HOSC to see if it was the right decision.
A spokesman for the health and care trust said: “Admissions from July to September remained extremely low.” The Joint Commissioning Executive has also organised talks with the public, patients and carers to discuss the move and get feedback. Patients from the south of the county are now transferred to the specialist dementia unit at Clent ward at the Princess of Wales Community Hospital in Bromsgrove.
A trust spokesman said: “There have been no complaints from patients or carers affected by the Berkeley closure to date.” In December two patients were admitted to Clent from south Worcestershire, one from home and one from an acute hospital.
Trust bosses say there is “no evidence” that admission levels will change and that only “high risk patients presenting with severe and complex needs” should be admitted. Care for people with dementia has been delivered by Admiral Nursing which supports carers with dementia, the acute liaison service and an inreach to care homes service and the introduction of a county-wide ‘early intervention dementia service’ in July, 2010.