July 23, 2015
'Future of Burnham Hospital is safe despite bed losses', say bosses

The future of Burnham-On-Sea's hospital is safe, despite plans to remove several beds there in a cost-cutting shake-up by NHS bosses, it has been confirmed this week.

Burnham's War Memorial Hospital in Love Lane currently has 22 beds with two temporarily closed, which Somerset's Clinical Commissioning Group has proposed should be permanently closed.

"The remaining beds will not be closed and neither are there any plans to close Burnham Hospital," spokesman Paul Courtney told this week.

It comes amid ambitious plans to develop Somerset's community health services and create a clear framework for the long-term development of the county's 13 community hospitals.

At a meeting of Somerset's Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) Governing Body, members discussed and agreed to take forward nine key proposals set out in the CCG's community health service review.

Among the proposals was a recommendation to permanently close 40 community hospital beds. These beds have been temporarily closed for the last 12 months, and monitoring of bed usage over that time indicates they were surplus to requirements. A further 17 beds, temporarily closed for the last 12 months, would be kept in reserve by Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, should they be needed during peaks of demand this winter.

Commenting upon the important role community hospitals play, both now and in the future, Dr Matthew Dolman, Chairman of Somerset CCG, said: "There is no question of the CCG proposing the closure of any community hospital. However, people are living longer and living with more long-term illness, like diabetes, heart disease, dementia and chronic lung disease. We must plan now if we are going to prepare our community hospitals to meet this rapid rise in demand for health services and achieve this within existing financial resources."

Dr Dolman added that any change to community services will be in a phased and integrated way over the next three to five years.

The timescale for developing services will be dependent upon a number of factors, such as enhancing existing provision for community based care, altering the choice of patients and referral patterns of family doctors, and continuing to support hospitals to work flexibly in order to manage peaks of demand, such as those experienced last winter.

The review suggests that the community hospital in Burnham-On-Sea be given the designation of a 'step down' hospital to provide care for people who have been discharged from a district hospital but who still need hospital based rehabilitation. Some inpatient beds would be available to help patients recover from ill health, but there would be a focus upon improving health and well-being and supporting patients with long-term conditions, like diabetes, chronic lung disease and dementia.

Somerset CCG members have approved the recommendation to permanently close 40 community hospital beds. There will ongoing patient and public engagement regarding the recommendation and the designation of community hospitals as either 'Step Up' or Step Down'. This wider engagement will involve patients, carers, NHS staff and the public and get underway from early 2016.

Copies of the Somerset CCG Community Service Review can be viewed or downloaded from the CCG's web site at: Members of the public who would like to know more about Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group's community health service review or share their views can email:


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