Back to cost-cutting and hospital closures? Wrong, wrong, wrong. We need a billion for a Devon NHS post-pandemic new deal

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Today’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny meeting painted a grim picture of the situation in Devon, with leadership which is just not meeting the needs of the situation:

Shortages of hospital and ICU beds – the SW has the fewest in the country (and the UK almost the fewest in Europe) meaning that – despite our Covid level being the lowest – the two lockdowns have been necessary to save our hospital system.

‘Physical space constraints’ due to the pandemic are restricting the restoration of ‘elective’ surgery – after improving more slowly than planned, this is now going backwards because of more Covid cases. 4,500 people and rising have been waiting over a year!

There are bed shortages in mental health units, too – as well as staff shortages, which are also affecting 111 and after-hours call-outs, with weak governance in both services.

Yet in the midst of all this, Devon CCG are saying that they must go back to implementing £400m financial savings (planned before the pandemic) in 2021-22.

They also want to proceed with the planned closure of Teignmouth hospital, although we have insisted that Scrutiny will look at the consultation results (which were not ready today) and send our views to the CCG before it makes a decision.

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! The pandemic will not end on 31st March, so EMERGENCY FUNDING MUST CONTINUE NEXT FINANCIAL YEAR. And we need to plan now for a post-pandemic new deal:

  • Centralise Covid services in the acute hospitals, disperse other services to more sites, restore proper intermediate (step-down) care outside the care home system.
  • Recognise that we have been badly caught out by Covid – we need to permanently maintain a larger hospital system, with more beds, so that we are ready for the next pandemic (which experts say could be worse).
  • Make full use of our community hospital system, so that people can be treated safely, closest to home wherever possible. Drop the Teignmouth closure programme.

Devon CCG and DCC must go and tell the Government, which is splashing out tens of billions on testing, that it must find a billion more for Devon’s NHS and adult care services. Cancel the cuts and invest in a viable future plan. WILL M.P.s AND COUNCILLORS OF ALL PARTIES JOIN ME IN PUSHING FOR THIS?

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