Bill Presented — Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill
Sarah Wollaston (Totnes, Conservative)
I wish to make the case for reinvigorating community hospitals as hubs for delivering the right care at the right time and in the right place. Of course, the right place, where possible, will always involve helping people to be independent in their own homes, but community hospitals have a vital role, through both step-up and step-down care, in helping to maintain that independence.
We should look at what community hospitals are capable of, because they are not just about in-patient beds: they provide a full range of diagnostics, minor injuries units, therapies—physiotherapy and occupational —and mental health care. In my constituency, people with cancer can access chemotherapy at Kingsbridge hospital, saving them a long roundtrip to Derriford hospital. Kingsbridge hospital—South Hams, I should say—supports a triangle centre helping people and their families living with cancer, while organisations such as Rowcroft hospice are looking to expand their care-at-home system through hubs in community hospitals and, at times, by utilising their beds and support. We can get so much more from community hospitals if we reinvigorate them.
We should not think of community hospitals as backwaters; they can be centres of great innovation. The nationally recognised Torbay pilot, which provides care based in the community, started at Brixham community hospital in my constituency and is now being consider for nationwide roll-out. That is a very good model.