Councillors and hospital fundraisers had raised concerns about the proposed temporary closure of six of the 12 stroke rehabilitation beds at Williton Hospital, whilst a new home based stroke rehabilitation service called the ‘Early Supported Discharge’ scheme (ESD) was tested for a further 12 months in West Somerset.
The ESD service has been delivered in West Somerset since September 2015 and is already well established.
Of particular concern to councillors was the possibility that West Somerset residents affected by a stroke and unsuitable for stroke rehabilitation at home might find the only available rehabilitation bed would be some 50 miles away at the stroke unit at South Petherton Community Hospital.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Mandy Chilcott, and Cllr Bryan Leaker, met Dr Ed Ford, Interim Chair and Lou Evans, Vice Chair of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) last Friday (28-10-16) for urgent discussions.
Following the meeting they were pleased to announce that significant reassurance had been offered by Somerset CCG who agreed that in the event that the remaining stroke beds at Williton Hospital were fully occupied, West Somerset residents, who were not suitable for stroke rehabilitation at home could, if clinically appropriate, could be supported by the ESD service from beds at Minehead Community Hospital.
“This is a tremendous reassurance for West Somerset residents,” said Cllr Chilcott. “I know that people are deeply concerned about the future of our local community hospital and the care of stroke patients.
“It was unthinkable that patients and their families should be treated at South Petherton with no local alternative – it’s a 110-mile return trip and virtually impossible to reach by public transport from West Somerset.
“The meeting with Dr Ford and the CCG resulted in a positive outcome and I am delighted that a way forward has been found for the West Somerset community. We will continue to keep a very close eye on what happens and I would ask residents to keep me informed if they have concerns.
“With the temporary closure of six of Williton Hospital’s 12 stroke beds in January 2017, we have agreed that the service will be monitored and reviewed in March/April next year. If at this point the service is not working then we have been reassured that the option to re-open the beds will be considered.
“It is absolutely vital that West Somerset residents retain good access to local medical facilities, especially given the high proportion of older people, and the fact that we all live in a rural area that has limited public transport. It is essential that we fully utilise our local hospitals to provide a wide range of treatments and services”.
Last year, Somerset CCG, the GP-led organisation that plans and funds local health services, awarded a contract to Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to deliver the Early Supported Discharge (ESD) service for stroke patients across the county. The ESD stoke rehabilitation team consists of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, nurses, rehabilitation assistants and psychologists who support stroke patients whether at home or in a hospital bed.
A two year evaluation of the ESD scheme in Mendip resulted in such good outcomes for patients and high levels of satisfaction that Somerset CCG agreed to invest in the ESD model of rehabilitation for the rest of the county.
Somerset CCG has stated that stroke patients from West Somerset who have experienced the most severe type of strokes may still need the specialist rehabilitation that is available at South Petherton Hospital’s stroke rehabilitation unit. Stroke patients from West Somerset would not be admitted there unless there was a clear clinical need. This option would be explained and agreed with patients and their relatives before discharge from the district hospital.
Debbie Rundle, on behalf of West Somerset Council,01984 635280 or 01823 356407 or 07714 759899 email email@example.com