Massive Devon NHS cuts loom

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… 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

Stop the Brexit disaster

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table1As Britain hurtles towards a potentially disastrous economic crisis in 12 days time, egged on by unscrupulous politicians, local activists have been out in force for Seaton and Colyton IN Europe, to support the case for REMAIN.

This is our stall in Windsor Gardens today – we will be out again before polling day. If you would like to help, or put up a poster, please get in touch.

Seaton and Colyton IN Europe

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I am organising a public meeting on Friday, 27th May at 7.15 in Colyford Memorial Hall, with speakers (to be confirmed) on The Case for Remain, in the EU referendum. All welcome. If you would like further details of this meeting, or to join this campaign, please contact seatoncolytonineurope@gmail.com.

Hospital under threat?

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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.

 

 

Devon Wildlife Trust warns over Brexit

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As Seaton devonwildlifetrustJurassic opens this weekend – it’s a great visit – the organisation that runs it, Devon Wildlife Trust, has warned that wildlife protection would be threatened by Britain leaving the EU.

In a letter to DWT members, chief executive Harry Barton – who I had the pleasure of meeting at Thursday’s opening ceremony – notes that ‘many of the improvements of the last three decades have much to do with the environmental and wildlife legislation that has come out of Europe. The Habitats, Birds and Bathing Waters Directives, to name just three, have required Britain and other countries to increase standards dramatically.’

‘European nature laws have provided a common platform’, Barton points out, ‘and they are long term and binding, making it much more difficult for individual governments to weaken or circumvent them at their own convenience. … Our relationship with Europe has many imperfections, but in my view there is no doubt that, where the environment and wildlife is concerned, it has been a real success.’

Next time you hear someone moan about EU bureaucracy, remember these (and other) sensible common standards which EU laws uphold. How are we going to maintain these standards if Britain leaves? And will Continental visitors be so keen to come to the Jurassic Coast if Britain has turned its back on Europe?

“Who Cares What You Think?” East Devon Independents’ conference

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Last May, the East Devon Alliance (EDA) supported Independent candidates across the district. Altogether 15 Independents won seats, taking 10 off the Conservatives, and now form the main opposition on EDDC.
IMG_1602EDA has now organised an open conference on 23rd April for the Independent councillors to report back to interested voters on what has been happening in EDDC since last May. It will also to discuss the challenges facing the region, especially the so-called ‘devolution’ deal which will see the Local Enterprise Partnership, with a majority of business people, given a key role in governing Devon and Somerset.
The public has not been consulted about this deal and the conference will hear from Independent councillors in both counties about what we can do about it. There will also be a chance to hear Bob Spencer, an Independent candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner (although I should add that EDA as such has not endorsed him, nor have I personally).
If you are concerned about these and other local issues, and would like to see a continuing challenge to one-party rule, please come to this event. The programme is here EDA Conference_Apr 23 and you can book by emailing conference@eastdevonalliance.org.uk. I look​ ​forward to seeing you there!

Pass-the-parcel council tax rises

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Council tax bills have just popped through our letterboxes, showing a 4% rise overall, including 4% increases for Devon County Council and EDDC, 2% for the police, and 11% for Seaton Town Council. These unwelcome rises are the result of the Conservative Government’s savage cuts to local government spending, which are forcing councils to tax more to keep services afloat. George Osborne will pretend that he has avoided tax increases – but he hasn’t, he’s just passed the parcel to councils and hopes voters will be stupid enough to blame them rather than him. He will also claim that this deep austerity is inevitable – but it isn’t, it’s a choice, which could be avoided by proper tax collection from multinationals and rich individuals, as well as perhaps by modest extra taxes (on property, rather than income?).

NB Seaton’s rise partly reflects the short-term costs of taking on the Town Hall and Marshlands at the same time, before income is realised from the latter.