Following a public consultation in early 2017, a subsequent referral to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) and recommendations by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the CCG and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have continued to work with the local community to resolve the future of Rothbury Community Hospital.
In April 2019, the Rothbury Engagement Group was set up and its membership included representatives from the Save Rothbury Hospital Campaign Group, Healthwatch Northumberland, a county councillor, parish councillors, the Rothbury practice patient participation group members, a member of the National Community Hospital Association as well as the CCG and trust.
The group was chaired by an experienced Independent Chair and clinical and social care professionals also joined the group when their expertise was required. To ensure as much independence as possible was built into the process, advice from the Consultation Institute was also regularly sought and independent analysis of the available data was carried out by PwC and the Clinical Senate.
Following extensive meetings and discussions over a period of six months the group developed a proposal referred to as ‘the art of the possible’ which aims to:
- Increase outpatient clinics, from falls clinics through to orthopaedics and others, some of which will use new technological links that enable virtual consultations.
- Provide additional clinical and day care services utilising the hospital site as a hub for health and care delivery. Services include:
- Dementia care
- Learning disability forums
- Health and well being clinics
- Chemotherapy care
- Enhanced emergency healthcare planning
- Mental Health and IAPT services
- Introduce a flexible bed model – with inpatient beds available within the hospital for short-term rehab and end of life care. The number of beds will be dependent on clinical need.
The proposal, which represents a bespoke solution to the challenges faced by Rothbury residents, was put to the CCG’s Governing Body in August 2019 at a meeting held in public. Councillors of Northumberland’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) subsequently voted to support the plan to safeguard the future of RCH at their meeting in September 2019.
The trust continues to engage with the local community to deliver this model which is expected to be fully operational by April 2020.
The CCG held a public consultation in 2017 on the proposal to permanently close the inpatient ward at Rothbury Community Hospital, and to shape existing health and care services around a Health and Wellbeing Centre on the hospital site. This proposal included continuing discussions with local people about how the centre could be modelled.
The Northumberland Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee met in October 2017 to consider the decision by the CCG and they referred the issue to the Secretary of State for Health, on behalf of Northumberland Council, who in turn referred the issue to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), a non-departmental public health body.
In November 2018 the CCG received a letter from the Secretary of State for Health in relation to changes to Rothbury Community Hospital. The Secretary of State shared the advice from the IRP with the CCG which found that further action was required locally to agree and implement a proposed health and wellbeing centre, potentially including inpatient beds.
In December 2018 a new group was established by Northumberland County Council which met in public to consider the findings of the IRP and examine proposals for the future of Rothbury Community Hospital with the aim of reporting back to the Secretary of State on progress.
At a further meeting of the Review Group in January 2019 the CCG set out a number of general proposals as to what kind of additional services could be provided in a health and wellbeing centre at the hospital and agreed to hold a further period of engagement to discuss possible options.