Intermediate care beds closed at Doddington Court following concerns of ‘patient safety’ with no indication of if or when they will be re-opened

Doddington Hospital. Picture: Steve Williams.

Doddington Hospital. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Beds aimed at accommodating those in the Fenland area needing rehabilitation or end of life care have been unoccupied for nearly six months with no sign of them coming back into use.

Doddington Hospital. Picture: Steve Williams.

Doddington Hospital. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Beds aimed at accommodating those in the Fenland area needing rehabilitation or end of life care have been unoccupied for nearly six months with no sign of them coming back into use.

Lack of proper staffing has been blamed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group for the closure of the nine-bed intermediate care unit at Doddington Court, which adjoins the hospital.

And they say a review is now underway to determine the future provision and should be completed by the autumn.

A move local MP Steve Barclay claims has been launched without any transparency and smacks of ‘stealth’.


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However, the North East Cambridgeshire MP said: “I will not relent. I will ask question, after question, after question, until we get to the bottom of what’s going. They are not going to get away with doing some sort of steal closure.”

An anonymous caller tipped off this newspaper to the beds lying empty and claimed that whilst nursing staff have been redeployed elsewhere two care staff remain in the unit with nothing to do.

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The caller claimed the care staff occupy their days with crosswords and crafting - a claim refuted by Sanctuary Housing, who are responsible for providing care at the unit.

Nursing care is supposed to be provided under contract by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, but instead of having full-time staff based in the unit they operate an ‘in-reach’ system.

A spokesman for the CPFT, explained the ‘in-reach’ system means nurses are deployed to the unit when there are patients who need proper nursing rather than just care.

However, a spokesman for the CCG, which commissions the service, said they have had to ‘temporarily pause’ admissions to the unit on ‘patient safety grounds’.

They said: “The CCG’s priority is the safety of patients and at the present time there are concerns around the levels of care which can be safely provided to support patients with more complex needs.

“We are also working to review and assess the current community bed provision across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and what types of beds are likely to be needed going forward and we will engage on any future proposals. The CCG hopes to have a solution in place as soon as possible.”

Mr Barclay believes there will be a consultation on the future of Doddington Court but the fact the staff have already been re-deployed makes it look like the decision has already been made.

And he claims Fenland is paying the price for poor management by the CCG and the failure of the older people’s contract.

A spokesman for Sanctuary said the unit is currently under review by the CPFT, but could not explain why the unit was closed prior to the completion of the review.

She also firmly refuted claims about care workers occupying their time with crossword puzzles.

“We firmly refute that claim. The staff have been redeployed to other area’s of Doddington Court and are fully occupied,” she said.

A second source blamed changes in the nursing provision by the CPFT for the unit’s closure and said it was unclear why the ‘in-reach’ model had been introduced.

News of the unit’s ‘temporary’ closure follows hot on the heels of alleged proposals that would see the area’s three minor injuries units at Doddington, Wisbech and Ely close.

A whistleblower leaked a report, which suggested the ‘only option’ was to close all three units, to Mr Barclay who made the situation public.

He said the language in the report suggested that whilst no formal decision had been made, there was an indication the outcome had already been made.

However, Whittlesey-based GP Dr Gary Howsam, GP chairman and chief clinical officer for the CCG, has hit back issuing a statement to local representatives, including members of the county council’s health committee, saying: “We remain wholly committed to working with you to develop options for the provision of urgent and emergency care in East Cambs and Fenland. I would like to reassure you that we are looking at a number of different options and we have not made any decisions in private, as has been reported.

“We have, in fact, had some very constructive discussions with MIU staff and with local GPs about some of the possible options. These include continuing the existing provision, reconfiguring the services to improve equity and quality, strengthening primary and community care to take on some of the services, or developing alternative models and facilities. All of these options are still at an early stage and will require a thorough options appraisal before any recommendations or decisions can be made.”

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