Empty wards within North Cambs Hospital have the potential to help improve health care in Wisbech, says a leading doctor.
Wisbech’s Local Commissioning Group wants to see more provided within the town’s currently under-used hospital.
The LCG, which covers 48,000 patients over four GP practices, is hoping to convince Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group to invest more money into the area.
The town suffers from “inner city levels of deprivation” but does not have the resources to deal with it.
Wrap around services for terminally ill patients and children provided within North Cambs Hospital are among the LCG’s aspirations.
Chairman of Wisbech LCG Andrew Wordsworth said: “North Cambs Hospital has an awful lot of potential and is under utilised.
“There is a lot of space not being used there. I believe there is room there to locate services and all that is required is the funding and willingness of organisations to make it happen.”
One of the main aims of the LCG is to provide more palliative care services.
Currently, there are three palliative care beds on the Trafford Ward, which is a rehabilitation unit at the hospital. While The Macmillan and Hudson Palliative Care Centre has a high demand for its outpatient or day care facilities.
Dr Wordsworth said: “We have the lowest rates of people dying in the place they want to die. We have the lowest use of hospice beds and the highest rate of deaths in hospital and the reason for that is we don’t have adequate equipment or facilities to support people at home or to enable to them to have specified hospice beds.
“So we want to improve access to hospice beds and to improve access to night sitting and domiciliary services.
“We want integrated comprehensive care with a dedicated in patient facility with enough beds and integrated out patients with 24-7 domiciliary support as well as rapid response in a crisis.”
Dr Wordsworth will be holding a meeting shortly with UnitingCare Partnership, which has been selected as the preferred bidder to improve older people’s healthcare and adult community services by the CCG.
There have also been calls by North East Cambs MP Steve Barclay for a hospice to be created within the hospital.
Dr Wordsworth said: “The professional care given by clinicians in Wisbech is excellent and as good as it possible within the resources available. What we really need is a robust service which completely wraps around the patient and their family to support them. At the moment there are holes in there that are historical that I would like to see addressed.”
Another challenge facing the LCG is that it that Wisbech has high levels of children at risk of harm or neglect.
Current services are provided by different organisations. Acute paediatric beds are at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital with mental health services at Doddington and social services are funded by Cambridgeshire County Council.
Dr Wordsworth said: “Wisbech has got similar levels of deprivation to an inner city without the resources to deal with it.”
The LCG want to improve inter-agency working by introducing a worker to access health and social work networks to ensure people reach the right services.
The group also wants to improve Wisbech youngsters’ access to mental health and neuro-development services.
Dr Wordsworth said: “A lot of North Cambs Hospital is under utilised and has great potential for more out patient services for children.”
Out of Hours services for Wisbech is another aspiration for the LCG. The current system is provided at North Brink surgery but closes at 10pm with the nearest hospitals at Doddington or Lynn.
Dr Wordsworth said: “Attendances at A&E at Lynn have increased significantly since 111 was introduced.
“What we would really like to see is an out of hours provision 24-7 service provided from Wisbech.”