NEW plans have been developed by health figures in South Lakeland to recruit more staff and help them avoid unnecessary hospital stays.

Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) are asking local people to give their views on the proposals which would see changes to how care is given to adults who need more support than can currently be provided by GPs or district nurses at home, but don’t need to stay on an acute hospital ward.

Since 2008, the 28 community beds on the Langdale Unit at Westmorland General Hospital have been mainly used for older people who needed this kind of nurse-led treatment, perhaps after a fall, when recovering after surgery, or at the end of their lives.

The CCG is proposing to reinvest the £3,000,000 per year cost of running the Langdale Unit into recruiting 36 additional nurses, physios and occupational therapists in the community. 

The proposals would include commissioning care homes and some community accommodation for people if home isn’t the right place for them.

Altogether, the proposed changes would make it possible to care for around 3,300 South Lakeland residents a year, more than seven times the number of people who use the Langdale Unit over the same period.

Dr William Lumb, local GP and Clinical Director for Community Care at UHMBT, said: “I helped to set up the community beds facility at the Langdale Unit 14 years ago. Since then, many things have changed in healthcare and it’s time for us to think carefully about whether community beds are the right way to care for a growing elderly population.

“Independent, expert reviews have shown that, in hospital, older people can begin to lose mobility and the ability to look after themselves. The sooner we can get them back to the familiarity of home – or better still avoid hospital admission in the first place – the better their recovery.

“We have put together four models for how care could be delivered in future. One of which – offering a blend of care in the community and beds in care homes – is our preferred option because we feel it best fits with what local people and clinicians have told us and is considered best practice in caring for older people.

“But no decision has been made and we now need local people and organisations to share their views on the four options, as well as any new ideas. The decision will be based on the best way of delivering care for the unique population and geography of South Lakeland.”