‘Nonsensical’ Axe On Care Beds Attacked

Financial plans drawn up to claw back millions of pounds from health services have been condemned after it emerged care beds are the latest casualties in the cutbacks in North Yorkshire. Selby and York Primary Care Trust (PCT) has announced it is hoping to shave up to £50,000 off this year’s budgets by withdrawing funding for the care beds in two units in York which have been instrumental in keeping patients out of hospital. The PCT is facing one of the worst financial crises in the country as it attempts to make nearly £23m in savings to balance its books and meet Government deadlines by March 31 next year.

One of the main thrusts of a financial recovery plan published in July will see GP referrals to hospital dramatically reduced by 20 per cent, and patients given fewer follow-up hospital appointments.

The 16 intermediate care beds had proved to be a vital resource in reducing admissions as they were used to rehabilitate patients without the need to admit them to a hospital ward.

Coun Sue Galloway, York Council’s executive member for adult social services, claimed that the cuts have come only four years after a report stated 50 additional intermediate care beds were needed and £1.2m was subsequently released by the NHS to achieve this.

She said: “The decision to lose the beds simply does not make any sense, it is nonsensical. It seems as though the accountants have come in and simply said we need to make the savings without a second thought as to where they should be made.

“The accountants may well have been hoping to find a pot of gold hidden away, but that certainly isn’t the case, and they are now cutting frontline services. These intermediate care beds were very important to ensure people do not have to end up in hospital, which is seen as one of the main areas to try and achieve the savings. There appears to be no coherent policy at the moment as to where the cuts will be taking place.”

A total of 11 beds will go at Grove House, which is one of the city’s care homes for the elderly run by York Council but part funded by the PCT.

The remaining five beds will be lost at Archways, a 27-bed facility run by the PCT and housed in a former local authority housing building which opened only two years ago.

However, the PCT’s director of health and social care, Heather Rice, defended the decision to lose the beds, and maintained York Council had been fully involved in discussions prior to the publication of the financial recovery plan.

She added: “Across the Selby and York health community there are a wide range of community beds and we are using this opportunity to work with partners including York Council, York Hospitals NHS Trust and local GP representatives to identify the most efficient way to develop services jointly, in particular for patients whose needs fall into the intermediate care category.

“These discussions are aimed at facilitating discharge from hospital and, where clinically appropriate, providing an alternative to hospital admission. We will continue to use new PCT services such as the Fast Response Team, a multi-disciplinary team who work with patients to find them alternatives to hospital admission, and enhance the support to patients in their own homes to reduce the need for intermediate care beds.”