SENDING stroke victims to Coventry has been branded a joke by healthcare campaigners.
All six stroke beds at St Cross hospital could be axed under the first stage of the Coventry and Warwickshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) – which aims to slash £267million in NHS spending over the next five years.
George Eliot in Nuneaton and Warwick Hospital would also lose 30 stroke beds between them.
All patients from Rugby and across Warwickshire will instead be taken to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW), which is adding an extra six ‘hyper-acute’ care beds for stroke victims – taking the total up to 12.
There will also be 31 specialist stroke beds at the hospital – just one more than previously.
Leamington Hospital will lose one rehabilitation bed, taking its total to 19, and George Eliot Hospital will have 20 beds. These would both cater for patients from across Warwickshire.
Most care would be delivered in the community, and STP bosses plan to focus more on stroke prevention.
But campaign group South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public (SWKONP) is worried about the consequences.
Chair Professor Anna Pollert said: “The plan is about cuts, and more ‘care in the community’ – with no mention of how this will be staffed and funded.
“People will have to travel further to visit those recovering in hospital. The CCG’s answer is ‘We may provide a leaflet about transport options you can choose’. This is a joke.
“The engagement document does not explain how an already overcrowded UHCW can cope with more patients, and one fears patients will be discharged too early. ‘Care in the community’ usually means unpaid carers.
“The cuts are part of the planned cuts of £267million by 2020 in Coventry and Warwickshire – and SWKONP will oppose these all the way.”
The plans have been devised by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) from across Coventry and Warwickshire.
They say changes have to be made as the service differed so much across the county and they could not ‘guarantee every patient is receiving the best possible care’.
CCG chair Dr David Spraggett said: “It is our aim to provide better patient care and a better quality of life for local people after they have had a stroke or mini-stroke.
“We are now looking for the public’s views on the next stage of our planning. Their feedback will help us develop options for consultation.”
Patients are urged to have their say before July 16 by completing an online questionnaire at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NHSstrokeservices or calling 0121 611 0231.