A GOVERNMENT report has concluded Ashbourne’s £20 million hospital is being ‘significantly under-utilised’ — which has led to an action plan being drawn up.
Inspectors from the Department of Health compiled a ‘health gateway review’ into the new facility as part of a process to ensure its investment was worthwhile. Now fears have been raised its clinics are not being used enough.
Findings in the report also suggested that St Oswald’s was suffering from a ‘lack of clarity’ over which organisation within the health service was responsible for making sure outpatients came through the door.
While the report praised the Clifton Road building’s new facilities and the notable improvements seen by patients since moving over from the old site, it highlighted a need for all organisations involved to make more use of the space and facilities available.
Members of Ashbourne’s 50+ Forum have been pushing health bosses across several groups to find ways of ensuring outpatient referrals from the area are sent to Ashbourne, to avoid lengthy and often inconvenient journeys to Derby.
Vice chairman Andrea Cooke said: “Residents in Ashbourne and all outlying villages should be offered the opportunity by their doctor to see a consultant in their local hospital.
“St Oswald’s Hospital should be used to its maximum optimum capacity in bed use, clinic availability, voluntary group participation and as a community hub for activities and health information.
“The hospital was a major capital outlay which is not realising its potential nor justifying its initial outlay or ongoing expenditure.” As part of the action plan, groups such as the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group will be promoting the services on offer at St Oswald’s and a survey has been launched to find out more about how numbers could be boosted.
Simon Griffiths, director of corporate strategy for Derbyshire Community Health Services, one of the organisations working to move the action plan forward, pointed out that a lot of clinics, including mental health services, had already been introduced to make up for a slow influx of outpatients.
He said: “A lot has happened since the report and an action plan has been formed through the board at Derbyshire Community Health Services.
“We will now work with the clinical commissioning groups, Derby Hospitals and members of the public to move the action plan forward and continually work hard to raise awareness of the services delivered at St Oswald’s.” Copies of the questionnaire, which must be completed by February 1 and will be used to measure awareness among townsfolk of the services on offer, can be collected from GP surgeries, Ashbourne Library or by visiting www.derbyshirelink.org.uk