Further investment into adult health care services in the community

Plans have been approved to invest more money into delivering improved adult health care services in the community in South Lakeland.

The Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body made the decision at its meeting on Tuesday 15 February to reinvest the cost of running the Langdale Unit at Westmorland General Hospital into delivering more care in the community, based on the results of a public consultation which closed on December 31.

During the consultation, local people, healthcare staff and community representatives were asked to give their views. People were asked where they would like to be cared for if they needed 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.

The 28 community beds on the Langdale Unit 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. However, feedback from healthcare professionals, patients and evidence from organisations like the British Geriatric Society is that hospital isn’t always the right place for people to recover and regain their independence.

The cost of running the unit will instead be used to recruit up to 36 additional nurses, physios and occupational therapists, enabling older people to receive care closer to their homes. Care home beds and community accommodation will also be funded for people if home isn’t the right place for them. 

Altogether, the changes are set to 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 Integrated Services at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “We are grateful to the many people in South Lakeland and beyond who have taken the time to share their experiences and views through this public consultation.

“All the feedback we received has been carefully reviewed and has both informed our decision and will continue to shape how these services are delivered so that they are right for the specific needs of the South Lakeland community.”

CCG commissioners will now work in partnership with staff, voluntary groups, the county council and many others to design and deliver the new service model.

The Langdale Unit was set up in 2008 and was temporarily closed in July 2020 so Westmorland General Hospital could become a dedicated site for elective surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary closure meant that Langdale Unit staff were redeployed in the community to deliver more nursing and therapy care in people’s homes. This was an opportunity to trial new ways of working which the preferred model of care would build on further.

The Governing Body paper can be found here.