Just over the border in Somerset: services handed over the Richard Branson’s Virgin Healthcare. Once this happens, will we ever get a proper NHS back? Coming to the NHS Devon in the near future?
At Devon County Council, Claire Wright (Ind.) proposed that the CCG consultation be suspended while the CCG included both Honiton and Okehampton in the options to retain beds. Conservative councillors voted it down and her resolution was lost 5-7.
Reblogged from the site of Claire Wright, indefatiguable independent councillor fighting non-stop on health service cuts.
NOTE: EDDC Tory Leader Paul Diviani sabotaged her effort to “stop the clock” on cuts to re-examine the effects of closing Honiton and Okehampton hospitals.
REPORT FROM CLAIRE WRIGHT, DCC HEALTH SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
“• CCG does not know how many more staff it needs
• No answer (yet) to public health stated assumption that care at home costs the same as care in big hospitals
My proposal at yesterday’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting to suspend the consultation which proposes to halve the remaining community hospital beds in Eastern Devon, fell by two votes.
There was a packed public gallery. Several members of the public, including Di Fuller, chair of Sidmouth’s patient and public involvement group and Cathy Gardner, EDDC Independent councillor for Sidmouth spoke powerfully, expressing deep concerns about the bed losses.
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Shocking tales of the creeping privatisation behind the NEW Devon CCG’s cuts.
The NHS’ new “Success Regime” aims to put a firm brake on health spending, but it’s proving to be a bonanza for consultants on lucrative contracts who oversee the process. And some of these consultants are former senior NHS managers who received generous payoffs when their jobs disappeared as a result of the Tories’ top-down reorganisation of the health service in 2012.
There were a few wry smiles, therefore, at Monday evening’s public “consultation” in Sidmouth to discuss closing the town’s community hospital beds, when Dame Ruth Carnall, chair of the “Success Regime” which is monitoring these cuts, bemoaned the disastrous “fragmentary” effects of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.
She may not like it, but as chief executive of NHS London which was abolished by the Act, she received a payoff in 2013 which included a £2.2 million pension pot.
Then with another former NHS executive she created…
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On the heels of yesterday’s successful meeting with nearly 300 people in Seaton Town Hall (see right), Independent County Councillor Claire Wright has now linked to the CCG’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan from September which sets out the need for cuts, including, she says:
- 100s of more bed cuts to acute hospitals such as the RD&E.
- cuts to stroke, A&E, paediatrics, maternity, breast services, ENT, radiology, heart surgery and vascular surgery
Claire says, ‘It is more important than ever that our MPs back Sarah Wollaston and ask for more funding in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.’ This is the point that Seaton Town Council also identified and which I put to Neil Parish MP yesterday. Parish accepted the point and said he will work for ‘more resources’, collaborating with Wollaston.
In response to a question from Paul Arnott of Colyton, former Chair of East Devon Alliance, Parish indicated that he would be prepared to vote against the Government on the Autumn Statement (23 Nov.) if there was no more funding for the NHS in Devon. Watch this space!
A troubling thing from yesterday’s meeting – Parish specifically asked Rebecca Harriott, CCG Chief Officer, if more funding would mean the community beds cuts would be reviewed: she refused to give that assurance.
PARLIAMENT DEBATE ON HOSPITAL BED CUTS MAY HAVE BEEN USEFUL BUT HEALTH MINISTER STONEWALLED MPs
Hugo Swire’s scheduled debate in parliament this afternoon about Devon’s NHS cuts was attended by almost all Devon MPs.
Ben Bradshaw and Sarah Wollaston unfortunately were unable to be there as they were in a health select committee meeting.
Although the health minister present (I don’t know who it was) pretty much stonewalled all the requests for more funding I do think that virtually all Devon’s MPs getting in a room all collectively complaining that NHS services in their areas being cut, was quite powerful.
It was an interesting insight into the differences between what were all conservative MPs views. Some simply argued against the plans of the local NHS in Devon. Others argued quite vociferously for more funding. But all appeared to fall on deaf ears, if the minister’s anodyne response was anything to go by.
Hugo Swire referred at the beginning to a long list of “demands and asks” – yet at the end of his 10 minute speech all I heard was a list of concerns. The only thing I heard him ask for was a letter from the minister relating to the loss of GP out of hours service in Exmouth.
He was articulate and easy to listen to but lacked the conviction of someone who really wanted to change anything.
Hugo Swire also claimed that those who blamed the conservatives for health funding problems were “immature.”
Other MP speakers included Oliver Colville and Anne Marie Norris – both of whom I thought were long-winded and ineffectual, Geoffrey Cox argued strongly for a fairer funding formula for Devon (he also sounded as though he was auditioning for Shakespeare), Peter Heaton Jones, who also argued for more funding (and stuck to his guns when the health minister tried to slap him down) and Neil Parish, who I thought was the best speaker.
Mr Parish displayed what appeared to be genuine passion for local services and frustration at Honiton Hospital being cut out of the consultation. He asked the minister for action on this, but the minister merely replied that it was a consultation and people should respond regardless!
Mr Parish called for all Devon MPs to oppose the bed cuts rather than a piecemeal approach, which is a position I entirely agree with. He stopped short, however, of calling for more funding.
The health minister’s repeated “gentle reminders” to his conservative MPs felt to me to have a rather menacing element, as though he resented being called out from his office to listen to a group of his own irksome backbenchers. They were “gently reminded” about a range of issues such as the consultation and NHS funding – which the minister said had already been uplifted for Devon.
The bottom line (and only piece of action it seemed to me) was that the minister agreed to write to Hugo Swire about Exmouth out of hours GP cuts. I think that this was it.
Hugo Swire did attempt a last minute currying of favour with the minister by reminding him that it was the Devon MPs who won the general election for the conservatives. Unfortunately the appeal seemed to fall upon stony, if not rocky, ground.
I would have liked to have seen a united front with a clear list of “asks” shared by all Devon MPs (after all they are of the same party), and speeches peppered with searching questions.
I hope that this will be the start of many more such similar debates on behalf of the residents of Devon.
As almost everyone in Seaton must now know, the NEW Devon (North, East and West Devon) Clinical Commissioning Group is currently consulting on which few beds should be retained in community hospitals. Although Seaton will keep 24 beds under Options A (the CCG’s preferred option) and C, under options B and D these beds will go to Sidmouth.
Indeed having removed the beds from Ottery St Mary and Axminster hospitals, the CCG now proposes to take all beds from Honiton and Okehampton, leaving only 32 beds in Tiverton, 24 in either Seaton or Sidmouth, and 16 in either Exmouth or Exeter (Whipton), to serve 900,000 people in most of Devon.
The Town Council has expressed its grave concern at the threat to Seaton Hospital and the wider removal of community beds. With Councillor Martin Pigott taking the lead, I and other councillors have met with representatives of the Hospital League of Friends and the GP practices (who have questionnaires available for you to express your views to the CCG). We will be organising a public meeting, probably on Friday 4th November, with Neil Parish MP – the CCG will be invited to send a representative.
The community hospitals are an essential half-way house, much valued by patients, between the acute beds in the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and care in the community. The whole point is to have them local. Taking their beds away will make only a small difference to the CCG’s ballooning deficit – the only thing that will really change it is for the Government to finally put in the extra funding which everyone knows the NHS needs. We need to link up with others in East Devon to make this a common battle.
Local community hospitals, including Seaton, will have to pay £3.1m a year in rent to NHS Property Services, in new fallout from the Conservatives’ disastrous reorganisation of the NHS. Seaton’s share of these supposed ‘market rents’ is not yet clear.
Thanks to Independent County Councillor Claire Wright for once again exposing this dangerous situation, which will surely threaten the closure of some hospitals in due course.