A managerial change is planned for an adult physical health rehabilitation unit at Bedford Health Village from next month.
The 20-bed Archer unit on the first floor of John Bunyan House is managed by the East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT).
But from April 1, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BHFT) will be responsible for running it.
In 2018, ELFT acquired the contract to provide community health services in the county, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee.
This arrangement included the Archer unit, which is the only in-patient physical health facility ELFT provides in Bedfordshire, said the report.
“ELFT has worked closely with the two local acute hospitals to deliver better levels of community-based care since then.
“This involves supporting people to live independently at home and to contribute to the fullest use of in-patient capacity across the BHFT’s estate.
“With the development of better community rehabilitation, ELFT’s requirement for in-patient facilities has reduced.
“This has improved the options available to people who would prefer to be cared for at home rather than in a hospital setting.
“During the pandemic, in particular, the need for in-patients beds by BHFT has increased,” added the report.
“As a result, it’s proposed the management of the Archer unit transfers to BHFT.
“This will deliver a more effective and timely discharge of patients from the acute trust and improve the patient’s overall experience of care by improving the departure process.”
ELFT has commissioned two local domiciliary care providers to work alongside community services to support people leaving hospital and help avoid admission in the first place.
Clinical support can involve one team rather than two boosting efficiency, explained the report.
“Assessments and investigations won’t need to be repeated and patients will only need to tell their story once.
“And the management team would be the same across both settings.”
ELFT interim chief operating officer Edwin Ndlovu told the committee: “We’ll hand over the running of the Archer unit to our colleagues at BHFT from April 1st.
“This will be good for our service users and from a system viewpoint,” he said. “We’re doing this off the back of our experiences through Covid.
“In-patients hospital beds are better managed by people who know how to run acute beds and that is our partners.
“People like ourselves, specialists in community services, can focus on the home first approach to local care to which we all aspire in Bedfordshire.
“The staff get a better support structure as well.”
BHFT chief executive David Carter confirmed there are no plans to move the facility.
“Having a unit away from the hospital site is more challenging, but we’re better placed to cope,” he said.
“We can provide a more flexible and dynamic service for our changing needs.
“These are the only NHS run in-patients community beds in Luton and Bedfordshire.
“Others in the community are provided from outside the NHS.”
Conservative Ampthill Councillor Paul Duckett said: “It makes things easier. ELFT do mental health. It seems perfectly good sense to me.
“There’s no real threat to employees. They’re coming under the hospital, which is better equipped to manage the beds.”