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Agenda item

Future of ward six, Bishop Auckland Hospital


The Chairman welcomed Sue Jacques, Chief Executive, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT), Lisa Cole, General Manager, Integrated Medical Specialties and Strategic Lead for Stroke, Gillian Curry, Head of Communications and Charity and explained the procedure to the members of the public that had indicated they wished to speak on the item.


The Committee received a report and presentation from the Chief Executive, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) that provided an update on the process undertaken to date, the proposed communications and engagement approach to support the development of options for a future model of care to be provided at Bishop Auckland Hospital (BAH) and the next steps in the process (for copy of report and slides, see file of minutes).


Mr Stenson questioned if the Trust would make any savings by closing ward six, as the patients no longer able to use the ward may still require care home provision. He asked what the cost implication were for the County Council to cover those costs. The Chief Executive CDDFT ensured that a full analysis including implications for organisations together with implications for the wider economy would be reported back to the Committee in April 2019.


Ms Hackworth-Young felt that the public should have been involved in the process sooner and requested a comprehensive consultation exercise take place for members of the public to be able to share their experiences. Referring to financial implication, Ms Hackworth-Young asked the Trust to indicate where the necessary savings would be made if the decision was taken to retain services at ward six. The Chief Executive CDDFT advised that through the engagement process they would work together to gain better optimal solutions while mindful of the demographic population and wider health system.


Councillor Patterson referred to the financial pressure on the Council and asked about proposals for engaging with wider partners. She felt more should be included in the questionnaire to better understand the rationale behind the responses.


Councillor R Bell stated that he would have preferred the Committee to have been engaged earlier in the process of reviewing future provision at ward six and suggested that the consultation process must be open and transparent. He raised concerns regarding community service support if the facility closed and felt that the cost implications were just transferring from the Health Service to the Council. He added that extra investment would be required for community services to be able to deliver the same standard of care.


Referring to the questionnaire, Councillor Kay was delighted with the positive responses regarding the care patients had received from ward six. He highlighted the extra burden that would be placed on the social care system and felt that the health service were abdication financial responsibility by placing that responsibility on the council tax payers in County Durham. He reiterated his previous comments that the matter would be referred to the Secretary of State should the final proposal be to close the ward.




The Chief Executive CDDFT clarified that a decision to close ward six had never been agreed at any point. It was agreed to work closely with Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and staff engagement. She ensured that recommendations and feedback would be shared with the Integration Board, chaired by the Corporate Director of Adult and Health Services and proposals would be reported to Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee after April 2019. The Chief Executive CDDFT agreed the importance of understanding the negative responses and advised that the patient questionnaire and staff consultation feedback echoed the benefit of the work undertaken on ward six and staff ideas and proposals would be perused. 


Councillor Patterson pointed out the reason ward six was called in to scrutiny was due to the planned closure. The Chairman added that he wrote a letter to the Trust as the Committee were informed that ward six would be closing on the 15 November 2018.


Councillor Chaplow referred to the questionnaire and commented on the length of time some patient have to wait for the ambulance service, which contributes to patient’s negative experience when transferring.


David Taylor Gooby commented on public perception and financial pressures the NHS was under and highlighted the importance of partnership working to seek common solutions.


In response to the question from Councillor Patterson regarding engaging wider partners, the Chief Executive CDDFT advised that they have approached Health Watch to assist with the process as they have a great deal of expertise it this area and will then advise on interaction and engagement approach. She asked the Committee to note that they would be unable to carry out the necessary work before the April meeting, therefore the date would have to be amended.


The Chairman requested a copy of the recommendations from Healthwatch to reassure members of the engagement process and asked that a member of Healthwatch attend the April meeting to explain the approach.


Councillor Allen, Governor on the Trust noted that the Trust had acknowledged mistakes had been made during the initial consultation exercise and felt they had responded positively. The decision to involve Healthwatch and the next steps outlined in the report were welcomed. Referring to engagement timescales, Councillor Allen asked if the process had started yet and when engaging patients/public/carers, that families who could give valuable feedback for the way forward be included. She emphasised the importance of working together to provide the best outcome for patients and residents of County Durham.


Councillor Zair asked for figures for patients who had been discharged from ward six who were then re-admitted to hospital within 28 days of being discharged. He also queried the number of employees that had left ward six and sought alternative employment since the announcement was made to close the ward.


The Chief Executive CDDFT advised that she would provide the Principal Scrutiny Officer with both sets of figures to be forwarded to Councillor Zair. Regarding the engagement process, the Chief Executive CDDFT confirmed that engagement would include families and carers and responses would be built into the business case. The process would start as soon as the Health Watch Board approve the proposal, following that, work would begin on developing a business case.


If the response following the consultation process was for ward six to remain open, Councillor Zair asked if this was still an option for the Trust or would the Trust still close the Ward. The Chief Executive CDDFT confirmed that keeping the ward open was still an option. Proposals would be reported to this committee and members would have the opportunity to feed back at that stage. She ensured that a comprehensive engagement process would be carried out involving other bodies and the assessment detailing criteria and how the conclusion was drawn would be presented.



That the engagement approach outlined in report be noted and the business case be received at a future meeting.



Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714