NHS consults with local people on proposed changes

The NHS in County Durham and Darlington is seeking the views of local people about proposed changes to hospital inpatient services for older people with dementia.

The NHS in County Durham and Darlington is seeking the views of local people about proposed changes to hospital inpatient services for older people with dementia. 

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) currently provides assessment and treatment beds across three inpatient wards. There are two 10-bed wards at Auckland Park Hospital in Bishop Auckland and one 10-bed ward at the Bowes Lyon Unit, Lanchester Road Hospital in Durham. 

The trust will maintain 30 beds but plans to reduce the number of wards from three to two. 

Mrs Elizabeth Moody, director nursing and governance at TEWV, said: “Most people with dementia receive the support they need in the familiar surroundings of their own home, nursing or residential home. 

“Some people, often those with very complex needs, need to spend short periods in hospital and it’s important that we provide them with the best possible environment, as near to their families as possible. 

“However, we must also make sure that we make the best use of tax payers’ money and use our limited resources as effectively as possible. 

“By reducing the number of wards from three to two, whilst maintaining the same number of beds, we can save up to £454,000 per year.” 

The local NHS clinical commissioning groups (Darlington CCG, Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG and North Durham CCG) are consulting on three possible options. 

  • Option 1 is to locate both wards (one male and one female) at Auckland Park Hospital at Bishop Auckland and close Picktree Ward in Durham.
  • Option 2 is to provide separate male and female wards on separate sites (one ward at Bishop Auckland and one ward at Durham and close one of the wards at Bishop Auckland).
  • Option 3 is to provide a mixed sex ward at Bishop Auckland and a mixed sex ward in Durham and close one of the wards at Bishop Auckland.

The preferred option of mental health professionals at TEWV is to have separate male and female wards at Bishop Auckland. The clinicians firmly believe that having separate wards for men and women is highly beneficial. 

They say that patients with advanced dementia often display behaviour that is challenging and can be socially and sexually disinhibited. Their experience has shown that having separate male and female wards is the best option as they provide environments where patients can be cared for safely and with dignity and where vulnerable patients can be protected. 

The main disadvantage of this option is that some patients and their families would have further to travel. 

Dr Neil O’Brien, clinical chief officer at NHS North Durham CCG, said: “We have not yet made a decision on the location of these wards and we need the views of local people to help us decide. 

“We recognise how important it is that families can visit their loved ones and want to provide inpatient services as locally as possible. 

“We also want to provide inpatient accommodation that meets the needs of people with advanced dementia. 

“Alongside all of this, we need to make sure that services are as cost effective as possible.” 

The public consultation runs until 28 March 2016 and the NHS are holding public meetings in Derwentside, Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Seaham. 

Information about the meetings, additional information on the options and how people can have their say is available online at v1-www.tewv.clients.wtg.co.uk or by contacting North Durham CCG’s engagement team on 0191 3898617.