The Committee received a report of the Director of Mental Health & Learning Disability Durham Tees Valley Partnership and the Director of Operations County Durham and Darlington, TEWV, which outlined a proposal to relocate Primrose Lodge Inpatient Rehabilitation and Recovery unit from Chester le Street to Shildon, which would reduce the community-based rehabilitation beds from 15 to 8 (for copy see file of minutes).
The Committee were invited to comment on the proposal which had been supported by the Durham, Tees Valley Partnership Board and County Durham Clinical Commissioning Executive Group. Following the meeting the CCG, with TEWV support will carry out activities to meet the required level of public consultation.
Councillor Martin advised that a reduction of beds was always a concern, particularly in NHS but the knock-on effect of losing beds caused patients to spill over into services they did not require. At one point 55% of these beds were occupied by patients that did not require this level of support and that equated to eight of fifteen patients that should not have been there. He asked how the service would ensure that this vital resource, would not be taken up by individuals who did not need this level of support in future.
In addition, Councillor Martin asked whether transferring funding from the provision of beds to employ more staff to assist people within the community could reduce the number of patients that required a bed, whether there was any proof from any other authority that this would be efficient as he wanted to be assured that this would not damage mental health services across County Durham.
The Director of Operations County Durham and Darlington, TEWV, confirmed that this was not a case of removing funding and redistributing it elsewhere, it was an attempt to reducte the length of stay, which would divert patients from acute wards and create capacity. The provision was countywide provision so although people in Chester le Street may view it as a loss, the service was relocating.
The Director of Mental Health & Learning Disability Durham Tees Valley Partnership advised that the national framework was focused on the avoidance of crisis and investment in outreach support, to keep people safe at home with early intervention and tools such as Qwell assisted in thie approach. Inevitably there were people that would need beds, however these beds were for people who were coming out of crisis and beds in west park that were fit for purpose, but sustaining additional investment and resources was shifting to support holistically as per strategy and national framework.
Councillor Andrews confirmed that she was not adverse to more care delivered in community but she queried whether there would be any issues with recruitment in the current crisis as there had been a loss of beds in Shildon due to inability to recruit staff. The Director of Mental Health & Learning Disability Durham Tees Valley Partnership advised that staff were in post.
In response to a question from Councillor Quinn the Director of Mental Health & Learning Disability Durham Tees Valley Partnership advised that the building was already owned by TEWV and it was considered that this proposal would be in place between April and June however this was not specific as service users would need to be consulted.
Councillor Quinn requested that the Town Council be made aware of the changes as they would receive queries from residents.
R Hassoon noted the changes within the team were extensive and asked what the changes meant for clients. The Director of Mental Health & Learning Disability Durham Tees Valley Partnership advised that services would be provided in communities, by community rehab team but some would remain clinic based depending on the need and service required.
Ms Hassoon noted that the service was countywide but asked whether the same provision was available with regards to visitors and in response the Director of Mental Health & Learning Disability Durham Tees Valley Partnership advised that the service would be replicated and visitors supported as they were in Chester le Street.
Councillor Stubbs referred to the modelling that had been carried out on the reduction of beds and asked when it had been carried out and whether it been revalidated. The Director of Mental Health & Learning Disability Durham Tees Valley Partnership advised that it had been done 18 months prior and had been reviewed based on the number of admissions over 18 months that were linked to covid and not appropriately placed. This had been considered and procedures were in place to attempt to prevent those admissions and it would continuously be reviewed.
The Principal Overview and Scrutiny Officer advised that the recommendation to request support for the proposal from the Committee and outline the level of public consultation required and timescale to complete was not within the Committee’s remit. Members were advised that they may consider any feedback following engagement with the public, at the meeting on 21 March, and comment on the proposal.
That the report be noted and a further report outlining the results of the stakeholder feedback undertaken in respect of the proposals be submitted at the Committee’s meeting scheduled for 21 March 2022.