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.
… the result not of the EU but of the failure of the Tory government (which includes Gove as well as Cameron) to invest properly in the service. How much worse will it be if a Brexit recession crashes government income?
Independent County Councillor Claire Wright comments: “Devon NHS cuts loom as regime narrows its focus. The team parachuted in by NHS England to reduce a massive health service debt in Devon has narrowed down its focus for cuts, it emerged yesterday. At Monday’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee, the Success Regime, led by former RD&E chief executive, Angela Pedder, outlined its progress so far and I asked about proposals to publicly consult.
If nothing changes, we were told that the NHS in Devon will be a whopping £398m in the red by 2020/21. The paper submitted with the committee agenda states: “Some services such as stroke, paediatrics, maternity are not clinically or financially sustainable in the long term without changes to the way they are delivered across the system.
Other services that will be targeted includes emergency surgery and specialties such as ear, nose and throat services. And it looks as though we will lose more hospital beds across large and small hospitals in the area.“Bed based activity will decrease and fewer beds will be needed in acute hospitals (big district hospitals) or community hospitals.”
In a separate but perhaps linked development, we also heard yesterday from South Devon Clinical Commissioning Group that it is poised to publicly consult on reducing its community hospital bed numbers from 156 to 96. Torbay Hospital is also set to lose 100 beds. Five community hospitals are proposed to be closed and sold off, freeing up around £6.2m. These are Dartmouth, Bovey Tracey, Ashburton, Buckfastleigh and Paignton.
The paper goes on to state that there are “initial recommendations on five segments of the population. These are:
– Elderly with chronic conditions
– Adults with chronic conditions
– Adults with severe and enduring mental illness
– Elderly with dementia
– Mostly healthy adults
The changes proposed are set to deliver around £70m of savings during 2016/17, with a £100m expected to be saved by March 2018. The paper seemed to be a bit light on what consultation would take place, although it was clear that the regime wanted the changes implemented as soon as possible.
I asked twice about this and received a rather vague reply but it looks as though there will be a 12 week consultation, possibly starting in July, which is when the regime is set to publish its detailed plans. Health scrutiny chairman, Richard Westlake, asked that a detailed consultation programme be sent to the committee.
These are likely to be significant cuts to health services and it is essential that the public consultation period is handled properly and fairly.”
Itemised webcast of yesterday’s meeting here – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/…/portal/webcast_inte…/222097
Source: Claire Wright, Independent Parliamentary Candidate for East Devon, Facebook, via East Devon Watch
Independent County Councillor Claire Wright writes that community hospitals across Devon are to be ‘acquired by NHS Property Services which has the ability to charge commercial rents to NHS organisations’. Will NHS Property Services resist the temptation to up the rent and will the NHS Trust which runs the Seaton Hospital keep it and other hospitals going?
The combined effects of the decisions of the Conservatives in the last Coalition government (which the Lib Dems failed to stop), first to chop up the NHS into myriad organisations which deal commercially with each other, and second to cut the £16bn extra funding needed to only £8bn, are putting our community hospitals and many other areas of the service at risk.
It was brought home to me this week that the cuts imposed by the NEW Devon (Northern, Eastern and Western Devon) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is in charge of our local health service, mean that GPs can’t refer patients to specialists for many ‘routine’ conditions – which may nevertheless be conditions which cause considerable discomfort and even risk serious complications down the line.
So although the Group says it is ‘prioritising’ the NHS Constitution commitment to ‘consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18-weeks from referral for non-urgent conditions’, the real wait for patients will be much longer – because you’ll have to become ‘urgent’ to get referred in this first place!
In the bad old days you had to wait, but at least you knew you were on the list. Now you can’t even get on the list, not because there isn’t a specialist available, but because the list for your condition simply doesn’t exist in our area. It does in other areas, of course – it’s a postcode lottery.
This situation is partly caused, Independent County Councillor Claire Wright suggests out in her latest column in the Express and Echo, by the expensive, pro-privatisation NHS reorganisation forced through by David Cameron’s former health secretary Andrew Lansley.
UPDATE: Owen Jones reports that CCGs elsewhere in the country are paying GP practices NOT TO REFER patients.
This is the body which oversees Seaton Hospital too.
Whatever relief we feel at the news that the number of general medical beds in Seaton Hospital will increase must surely be tempered by the fact that the clumsily named NEW (Northern, Eastern and Western) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, doesn’t even get the idea of community hospitals.
A NEW Devon spokesman, writing in this week’s View From, says that they have to take account of the ‘whole population’ of the area, not just specific ‘communities’. Community opinion in Axminster (and Ottery St. Mary, which will also lose its beds) has simply been set aside.
EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee, chaired for the first time in years by a non-Conservative (Independent, Roger Giles), has asked both MPs to request the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to overrule the decision to remove the beds from the two hospitals. Our MP, Neil Parish has already said he will do this for Axminster. I wish him well with this but I’m not holding my breath.
Parish says that ‘Our Government’s NHS legislation puts much store on local people being consulted and listened to’. However the Lansley reorganisation was universally criticised for creating a fiendishly complex structure which would make it more difficult for people to influence. And so it has proved.
Seaton Hospital – beds safe for now. But for how long?