Health leaders are considering people’s views about plans to move health services from Babington Hospital to a new, purpose-built facility in the town.
The move follows months of engagement by NHS staff, which included talking to people in Belper’s streets and the town’s farmers’ market, and information and details about how get involved being delivered to thousands of households. Leaflets and further information were also available at libraries, GP surgeries, clinics and other public venues.
In addition to views which were shared face-to-face, more than 170 people gave their opinion via a written survey.
The feedback will be considered and then shared with Healthwatch Derbyshire for further independent analysis. A report will go to the CCG’s governing body for a decision on next steps in June.
Currently Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust (DCHSFT) is commissioned to provide a range of services for patients from the hospital in Derby Road, including community therapy services, physiotherapy, podiatry, falls prevention and intermediate care.
But difficulties posed by increasing maintenance needs and limitations of Babington Hospital’s building, and an ongoing review of Belper health services, has prompted leaders at NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to plan to move all existing services from Babington’s site – including Belper Clinic – to a new development in Derwent Street, closer to the centre of the town, with a new model of “bedded” care offered.
Clinical chiefs at the CCG, which plans and pays for health services, have worked with professionals that support patients to develop the plans. These have been shared with NHS staff and clinicians, and Belper Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) – which work with GP practices to make sure patients and carers get involved with, and influence their services.
Dr Paul Wood, practising GP and Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We worked in partnership with staff from Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust to talk to as many people as we could, to take on board all views, both for and against.
“Wherever possible we will incorporate ideas in the creation of the new, purpose-built facility. We’re keen to maximise all available health and care resources so patients get the best support, now and in years to come.
“People are living longer – which is great news for everyone working in the NHS – but that creates different patient needs, particularly the ongoing support needed for long-term conditions, and we must take these into account when we forward plan so the right care is available.”
Derbyshire County Council is developing land in Derwent Street to provide 40 new residential care home beds for their service users, and create a new library for Belper.
Locally there has been signification opposition to the proposals with protests, petitions and regular meetings being held by the Belper SOSNHS group.
Keith Venables said: “NHS managers are trying to impose a £280 million cut in health Service provision across Derbyshire. Rather than seek the necessary funds from NHS England and the government, they are putting pressure on us. But people are speaking out, from Belper to Chesterfield to Swadlincote, protests are taking place and we think have an effect.”
The CCG and DCHSFT have worked with the authority to explore opportunities for providing health services from the same site. DCHSFT purchased land in Derwent Street from the county council, on the understanding it could be sold back if a decision was made to not move services to the site. The Trust currently rents the Babington site from NHS Property Services, which has owned it since 2013.
Services will continue to be offered from the Babington site until the new Derwent Street facility is ready to house services, unless exceptional circumstances – such as flooding – make this impossible.
Dr Wood added: “We carefully reviewed options and discussed these with local GP practitioners to make sure our plans were sound and had the support of clinicians.
“The local GP practices have written to the CCG during the engagement period to confirm their support for the proposals.
“We wanted to be sure that the superb patient care currently offered by professionals can carry on being offered – but from a suitable building which is specifically designed to be used for modern health care, or out in the community, in people’s own homes when it is best and appropriate for them.
“We want to invest in extra community support and adapt to these needs so people can carry on with their lives with the help they need and we use beds wisely and well for those that will benefit.”