ON SEPTEMBER 17 I attended the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) meeting at County Hall, where with a colleague who works for the NHS at the Witney Community Hospital we both spoke to the councillors of our concern regarding the recent closure of the 30-bed Wenrisc Ward.

I had raised concern over the conduct and behaviour of the local management, which had resulted in four highly skilled nurses resigning and recently two high-care assistants resigning at a time when the Oxfordshire Health NHS Foundation Trust recognize the vital importance of staff retention.

But part of my concern was the removal or unavailability of these intermediate and sub-acute beds, which would exacerbate the UK’s worse bed-blocking problem at the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Horton.

I had said then that I hoped that existing and newly developed elderly care homes would not be looked to as a relief for the lack of appropriate elderly care beds which Cllr Susanna Pressel and Cllr Laura Price raised at this week’s HOSC meeting as being proven to give poor recovery outcomes, resulting in the elderly patients being trapped in the care home system.

But just following a presentation by Dr Bruno Holthof, newly appointed chief executive of the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) to the HOSC, a statement was being communicated via the hospital’s intranet that to relieve the increasing bed-blocking problems care home beds would be used!

It has been reported that 18.4 per cent of Oxfordshire Care Homes “require improvement”. In the same article Eddy Mcdowall, chief executive of the Oxfordshire Association of Care, said staff turnover had “impacted on the quality of care given”.

So the two Oxfordshire health governance bodies have closed wards and beds that are specifically there to treat our elderly citizens with the crucial and specialised clinical treatment that will, if available, see them back in their homes or community.

Though the resources and support for home/community care is limited owing to funding cuts, it is at home that outcomes and recovery are best achieved.

Remembrance Day should not be a one-day event for dignitaries, local government and health officials to be seen with poppies and bowed heads who then spend the next 364 days forgetting and making decisions about those survivors and the generation who made ultimate sacrifices now to be left imprisoned and isolated in the environment of some of the Oxfordshire residential elderly care homes.

By ensuring the appropriate health service and provision is continued – and that this is reflected in the clinical intermediate care beds in community hospitals being available – and that we see our elderly treated with compassion and dignity to return back well into the community and/or home, then we can say we have not forgotten.

David Hartley
Wilkinson Place
Tower Hill, Witney