Fewer beds for dementia care in planned hospital shake-up

A PROPOSED health shake-up which would halve hospital beds for older people needing dementia and mental health care in part of North Yorkshire is to be debated by councillors.

Under the proposals announced last year, services will be lost at Alexander House in Knaresborough, which provides care for elderly people suffering from dementia.

In 2006, the last time changes were proposed, a petition to save the service was backed by more than 9,000 people.

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Health bosses say Alexander House and the Rowan Ward at Harrogate District Hospital currently have 32 beds but argue these beds are under-used.

They are proposing bed numbers are halved to 16 and these would all be provided at the Rowan Ward at Harrogate’s hospital.

Alexander House, which has traditionally provided long term care, will be used as a community resource centre with a memory clinic and other dementia services.

Health bosses say the plan will free-up cash and allow it to bring in service improvements which will ensure early diagnosis and home care for those living with dementia.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, which is chaired by Coun Jim Clark, will meet on Friday to discuss its response to the proposals.

A report to be considered by members says: “The NHS locally has highlighted that fewer than half of the beds are in use at any one time and also that national guidance suggests a population the size of the Harrogate area needs around 15 – 16 assessment and treatment beds for older people.”

A recent report warned of the pressures of an aging population being faced by Harrogate and the rural district which has a population of more than 158,000 and 20 per cent are over 65 - compared with the national average of 16 per cent.

It is estimated that this will
increase further to 23 per cent in 2020 and 28 per cent in 2030, members of Harrogate Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny commission were told in
January.

Health bosses have said that the shake-up plan will free-up cash and allow it to bring in service improvements which will ensure early diagnosis and home care for those living with dementia.

They argue saving money on inpatient care will allow it to protect and invest more money into community services.