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Review favours caring for the elderly outside hospital

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: July 18, 2013

Poltair Hospital, Penzance.

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A REVIEW of health services in west Cornwall is calling for more care in the community instead of in hospitals.

Focusing on care of the elderly, it asked for a greater public say on the future of Poltair Hospital in Heamoor, shut to in-patients since October.

Peninsula Community Health (PCH) closed the community hospital due to staffing issues and a question mark has been hanging over its future.

"We've worked with local people over many months to work out what's really needed in our area," said Marazion GP Neil Walden, chairman of the review and the local lead for commissioning body NHS Kernow. "It's clear that a priority for the community is to make a decision on what's going to happen to the hospital.

"We'll be working closely with the Poltair League of Friends to develop the options that we'll then ask the public to comment on."

The report found no specific nursing need was met by a stay in a Poltair bed and the "public appeared to accept that putting more funds into buildings that were becoming unfit for purpose was not a good use of monies which might have a more beneficial impact on patients if invested directly into care services".

The review and Poltair's closure are not linked, but NHS Kernow and PCH are jointly consulting the public on the future of both the hospital building and its services.

A 12-week consultation is set to begin in September including workshops, public meetings, one-to-one sessions and online and postal responses.

It will be followed by recommendations to the governing body of NHS Kernow, which has stressed that no decision has yet been made about the hospital's future and all options remain on the table.

Along with the fate of Poltair, the review also looked at the needs of patients across Penwith and made recommendations for changes to the system where these were felt to be necessary.

In all, ten recommendations were put forward as part of the review, including looking at using care homes for patient rehabilitation instead of hospitals and budgeting for equipment to be used in the community – all while trying to save cash.

"The recommendations include suggestions for reconfiguring, remodelling and reconstructing services to better meet the needs of patients and improving care in the community without, necessarily, investment," said Dr Walden.

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