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Update on Watage Hospital from Paul Barrow

on Sun, 21/01/2024 - 6:00pm

Brief update on Wantage Hospital and County Health Scrutiny Committee

Yesterday, Jan 16 th , Oxfordshire Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) met to discuss
the future of Wantage Hospital and receive briefing on support for people leaving hospital.
I have circulated the background to the meeting previously but include this again for

Wantage Hospital - update
A public meeting was held on January 11 th to discuss the options for the future of Wantage
Hospital. A presentation was made by Dr. Dan Leveson, Oxford Lead on the Bucks, Oxon,
West Berks Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Dr. Ben Riley of Oxford Health. The presentation
included the preferred option of an expanded range of out-patient clinics together with the
prospect of additional services sometime in the future including a minor injuries unit and
improved end-of-life care. The ground floor of the hospital will need refurbishment and
Wantage housing development (CIL=Community Infrastructure Levy) money (ca. £600K) is
available for health and will be used for this purpose.
Long term changes to National Policy mean that community beds are required much less
than previously and the in-patient beds at Wantage will finally go. There is a huge clinical
literature (some of which I have read) which shows that discharge from hospital to
residents’ own homes (with appropriate support!) results in faster recovery than if they
stayed in bed. As might be expected the discussion was lively but indicated that few had
read the detailed report (to be honest it is 32 pages long).
This was then discussed again the next evening by Wantage Town Council Health Sub-
Committee and afterwards by Wantage Town Council. All this was necessary because HOSC
(county health scrutiny committee) has been monitoring these arguments closely and had
to decide on whether the loss of the in-patient beds, whether there has been sufficient
public engagement and whether this will all result in improved health care, is regarded as a
substantial and unsatisfactory change. If the co-production had been regarded as
unsatisfactory and the changes regarded as substantial, HOSC could have referred to the
Secretary of State but this could delay the changes and the CIL money could be lost. On
Tuesday 16 th HOSC made the decision not to refer to the Secretary of State. Oxford Health
will now apply for he CIL money to take the refurbishment ahead with services expected to
be in place by Spring/Summer 2025.
There was also a recommendation to the NHS partners for a commitment by the ICB and
Oxford Health to continued co-production leading to improved services in the future
including a minor injuries unit and improved palliative care.
Support for People Leaving Hospital
A comprehensive summary was also presented at HOSC on the 16 th of the plans for the
reduction in short-stay beds where historically patients were frequently discharged from
hospital. There is extensive clinical literature, some of which I have read, showing that
recovery is faster and improved if patients recuperate in their own homes rather than in
hospital beds. This is now national policy and has started to be rolled out in Oxfordshire
from this month. Clearly, appropriate support following discharge home is vital and was the
subject of extensive questioning. HOSC and Healthwatch Oxfordshire will continue to
monitor this development.

Cllr Paul Barrow