Month: September 2020

Swire diary shows how Hugo’s fear of Claire Wright drove Tory about-turn on community hospitals

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Now that the diary of Sasha Swire, wife of Hugo, the former East Devon MP, is out (not just extracts in the press), it’s even clearer (see below) that the sudden Tory shift on community hospitals in 2018, after Matt Hancock became Health Secretary, was primarily driven by Claire Wright’s campaign to save East Devon’s community hospitals and Ottery St. Mary in particular.

Sasha Swire is completely wrong, however, to say that there was no threat to close the hospitals. The reason for closing beds in Axminster, Seaton, Ottery and Honiton was not only to save money on ward costs, but also to prepare the way for selling some of the sites for property development.

Remember that in 2017-18, CCG was constantly threatening to publish a Local Estates Strategy as a follow-up to the bed closures, and the Government commissioned the Naylor Review which proposed incentives to local NHS organisations for selling off ‘surplus’ property.

However the huge resistance to these plans from communities across East Devon caused the CCG and the local Tories to hit pause. After Swire was finally motivated to save Ottery (he had been prepared to sacrifice Seaton’s beds, because it was no longer in his constituency), Hancock was pushed into telling the Tory conference that ‘the era of blindly closing community hospitals is over’.

This doesn’t mean our hospitals are safe. Some like Seaton are still partly empty because the NHS has never put in the money to use them fully for local services. But it does mean that voting against the Tories remains the most reliable way to keep them.

(PS Hugo really does come through as a B’stard, and after reading his wife’s account, how could anyone possibly believe he deserved his knighthood?)

Tory councillors are upset at being called ‘toilet seats’, but it’s the public who are being dumped on by MPs like Swire

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According to East Devon Watch, furious Tory activists are accusing Sasha Swire (wife of ex-MP Hugo Swire) of ‘betraying friends’ by labelling some Tory councillors in her husband’s old constituency ‘toilet seats’. But if you think the idea through, it’s we (the public) who should be offended. The implication is that MPs like Hugo are using Tory councillors to dump on their constituents.

Claire Wright vindicated by Swire’s wife’s diaries: “Hugo launches a campaign to save a local hospital for no other reason than to annoy an independent candidate in his constituency who’s been getting on his nerves”

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Proof that:

  1. The Tories don’t really care about our community hospitals.
  2. Voting against the Tories is the only way to get them to support local communities.
  3. Claire Wright is a real star!

How to get a Covid test in Devon if the system doesn’t give you a local slot – and news about local contact tracing

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From statement by Cllr John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council: ‘There have been some recent problems with access to COVID-19 testing. This is not unique to Devon and is a result of national laboratory capacity being stretched and having to prioritise analysing tests for areas with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 cases. We have put additional local arrangements in place to boost local testing availability until national capacity can be increased. We are asking Devon residents to book a test as normal via the government website. However, if they are unable to book a local slot then they can email and they will be supported to access local testing.

The Devon contact tracing system

‘Currently some local authorities are piloting local contact tracing services (for example Swindon) but the approach in Devon has been to second three members of its public health team part-time to Public Health England to support their contact tracing, which is working well.

‘At present, the national NHS led Test & Trace system is performing well for Devon. For Devon, since its launch to 16th August, 86% of people were reached by Test & Trace which is one of the best in the country (15th out of 150 nationally), and 68% of close contacts were identified (21st out of 150 nationally).

‘These rates have improved locally and nationally in recent weeks, so the figures for Devon will be higher again although they are not available yet. Complex cases are referred to the Public Health England Local Health Protection Team for follow-up: they are currently reaching 100% of cases.’

East Devon’s COVID rate rises, to the highest in Devon after Plymouth: time to re-tighten social distancing

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The COVID case rate in East Devon has risen from 6.8 to 10.3 per 100,000 of population. This is still low by national standards, but as we can see from the escalating cases elsewhere, this increase could lead to further rises and a real re-emergence of the pandemic, if we are not ALL very careful.

RD&E launches new patient website

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The RD&E has today launched its new, patient-friendly interactive website –

As well as promoting self-care and the range of options available for those seeking urgent care, the website includes all the information you may need about the Trust’s acute and community services. This includes:

  • sites, services and ward information, including how to get there, opening times and contact information;
  • information on clinical services, including what each team does, and a range of resources such as leaflets, documents and videos;
  • how to change or cancel an appointment;
  • support available (including PALS, translation services and our learning disability liaison team);
  •  the live waiting times for Wonford ED and our Minor Injuries Unit in Honiton.

You can also read about the RD&E’s current vacancies, innovations, latest news, the RD&E Charity, and much, much more!

If you have any comments or questions about the new website, please email

Beer Road field development ‘not in accordance with the development plan for East Devon’, says official notice

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I haven’t seen this on a notice before. There are now almost 30 objections, but please do get yours in to show the strength of feeling: details here