The integration of the hospital and elder care on St Mary's will help ensure the hospital's future.

Phil Confue, CEO of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said that the islands may lose all the beds at the facility unless a "better solution" is found to the way it is currently run.

Speaking at yesterday's Community Update on the Future of Elder Care, he said: "We know from an NHS point of view that the move is to integrate more closely with health and social care. We have a lot of resource tied up in beds. Actually quite a lot of that resource could be then used to deliver community services in a very different way. 

"We talked last night about... delivering more care at home. Some people will go to residential care, but actually more people don't go to residential care, they die at home. That's what they want and we should be able to support that."

He added: "There will be a debate that's coming up because the NHS is squeezed for cash as well. If we do nothing, in two or three years' time people will begin to raise questions about the hospital because in terms of its beds it's not very heavily used. 

"In terms of its Minor Injury Unit (MIU) there will be an MIU there's no doubt about that. There'll be the x-ray... and district nursing. 

"But there's a danger if we don't come up with a better solution we end up losing the hospital beds. So now is the time to act almost to protect that for the future."

Cllr Avril Mumford said that if the integration of elder care and hospital provision works on the islands, it could be used on the mainland. 

She said: "There's a lot of cottage hospitals closing down and a similar thing could happen. So the Government might look on this as a pioneering project and be a bit more inclined to be generous with funding."

The Community Update at the Wesleyan Chapel was attended by around 30 islanders. 

Read the options appraisal on the future of elder care here.

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