New scheme for NHS care in Rothbury

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is developing a new flexible care service for patients in Rothbury that will see community treatment, NHS beds and much needed residential care for people in the area.

The trust has created a new strategic partnership with a third-party care provider People First Care which will allow the NHS to deliver a flexible number of beds to meet the needs of patients in Rothbury, while continuing to provide extra support for people’s health and care needs in their own home.

As part of the scheme Northumbria will commit to taking NHS beds within this facility – with numbers moving up and down flexibly to meet patient needs – which aligns with initial work in other parts of Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Under the plans People First Care will operate a 12-15 bed unit for people needing respite care, rehabilitation services, longer-term recuperation or end of life care. This facility will be supported by a wider team of district nurses, GPs and nurse practitioners.

Northumbria Chief Executive Sir James Mackey said “This is a really exciting development and I’m pleased that we’re able to announce these plans after so much hard work. The last two years have been incredibly challenging for all health and care services but it’s very rewarding to see the end result.

“The trust has been working incredibly hard to develop our ambition for hospital care in Rothbury but like every organisation in the health and care sector our focus for the past two years has been on managing the covid19 pandemic. While much work has already been done this has disrupted some of our planning but also taught us valuable lessons on the flexibility we need to cope with future challenges.

“We believe this model not only delivers the right level of NHS care, but also adds much-needed additional residential care home beds for the community. We’re confident that this unique and innovative approach can be a real success in Rothbury and we are committed to making it work.

“We know that much more NHS care should be delivered to people in their own homes where they are most comfortable and better able to recover. In the covid-era we’re also aware of the benefits of reducing the risks of spreading infections and creating unnecessary contacts for vulnerable, older patients.

“Our priority at all times has been to offer the best care to everyone in the area and it’s increasingly apparent that a flexible approach to beds, staffing and patient care is the best solution.

“Our focus is not on the number of hospital beds but how best to deliver care effectively and safely in community settings. The Trust already has a very strong community team supporting people right across the county.”

Cllr Steven Bridgett, County Councillor for Rothbury says “We have been waiting for a sustainable health and care bed solution for Rothbury for some years and I am pleased that the model outlined to me today is progressing with a view that this will be opened in the Spring.

“I have been in regular contact with the Trust and feel that they have listened to the concerns of the residents of Rothbury & Coquetdale and developed a solution that not only deals with the need for flexible healthcare beds but also adds to this a wider care solution that has been missing from this community for some years. Our focus is now on delivering this.”

Katie Scott, Coordinator of the Save Rothbury Community Hospital Campaign Team, said “Since the closure of the ward, we have fought for an integrated facility with GP surgery, step-up, step-down, end-of-life, and respite beds. In April 2017 we produced our ‘Coquetdale Cares – the Community’s Vision’. We have worked tirelessly to keep the health needs of our community in the minds of the NHS. The proposal that we have seen today looks like it is our vision, but with ‘a cherry on the top’!

“The team are delighted that residential care is at last coming to our community. We welcome the proposal and hope that the new facilities will be available very soon. We would also like to thank the community for the continuing dialogue, which has enabled us to report regularly to the NHS on real suffering and real need. Our only regret is that so many people, including Maurice Cole, a key member of the Campaign Team, did not live to benefit from the proposed new facilities at Rothbury Community Hospital.”

It is hoped the new model will be up and running by spring/summer 2022 and Northumbria will work with Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to finalise the proposal as soon as possible to ensure there is minimal delay in getting the service up and running.