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NHS confirms next steps following temporary suspension of inpatient services at Rothbury

Tuesday, 20 September, 2016
NHS confirms next steps following temporary suspension of inpatient services at Rothbury

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have today confirmed the next steps following the temporary suspension of inpatient services at Rothbury Community Hospital.

Northumberland CCG will be carrying out a detailed review, working closely with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to look at the declining bed occupancy levels and low use of inpatient services at the hospital which have been evident for a number of years. 

The CCG will report its findings at a public meeting to be held in Rothbury on Thursday 17 November, the details of which are currently being confirmed and will be shared publicly as soon as possible.

New inpatient admissions at Rothbury were suspended on Friday 2 September in light of the continued extremely low use of the ward which, on average, saw only 50 per cent of beds being occupied at any one time throughout the whole of last year – a figure which dropped to 35 per cent bed occupancy for July 2016.

This decline in inpatient activity reflects the fact that more and more care is now being safely delivered outside of hospital and within the comfort of people’s own homes, particularly for older and more complex patients. 

The temporary suspension of new admissions does not affect any other services which operate from Rothbury Community Hospital and see hundreds of patients every year – this includes all physiotherapy, occupational therapy, outpatients, child health clinics and community paramedic services, which are all continuing as normal.

The local NHS has also confirmed three drop-in engagement sessions in Rothbury over the coming weeks, as part of a rolling programme of activity across Northumberland.  The sessions will be held in the group room at Rothbury Community Hospital (see below) and will be run as ‘drop-ins’, so that people can call in at any point during the times stated and talk to NHS staff:

·         Wednesday 28 September – 5pm to 8pm

·         Wednesday 5 October – 4pm to 6pm

·         Wednesday 12 October – 4.30pm to 6.30pm

Anyone who is unable to drop-in during these times can email any questions or feedback to

Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We would like to reiterate our firm reassurance to people in Rothbury that no permanent decision has been taken about the future of inpatient services.  We will be carrying out a detailed review in the coming weeks to look at the inpatient activity in Rothbury over the past few years and have arranged to report our findings publicly in November. 

“For many years, Northumberland has been leading the way nationally when it comes to delivering truly joined-up care outside of hospital and we would urge people not to view this situation negatively.  On the contrary, the situation we find ourselves in is a positive reflection of the significant investment we have put into developing integrated community teams who can safely look after people in the comfort of their own surroundings.

“Nevertheless, we wholeheartedly understand some of the concerns that have been raised to us which will need to be fully considered as we move forward and are very keen to engage with the local community as soon as possible.”

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said:  “We are pleased that the next steps for the review in Rothbury have now been confirmed and hope this gives local people further reassurance. 

“Although we take operational decisions like this every day when wards are not being used, unlike some of our other hospitals, this is the only inpatient ward in Rothbury and we therefore completely understand the heightened awareness.

“As you would expect, one of our first priorities has been to support the staff affected by this temporary change.  We are extremely grateful and humbled by the way in which our teams have responded and are now helping to provide much needed support in other busy parts of our system during the immediate months ahead whilst the review takes place.

“We are absolutely committed to listening to the views of local people and would encourage people who have any questions to come along to one of our engagement sessions in the comings weeks.”