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.
Dear Mr Parish,
Like most people in Seaton and the Axe Valley I am alarmed at the two options in the NEW Devon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group’s consultation on community hospitals which would remove all beds from Seaton Hospital. Therefore I am glad that you will be speaking at the public meeting in Seaton Town Hall on Friday 4th November to discuss these proposals.
I was surprised, however, that in the parliamentary debate on the NHS in Devon (18th October) you focused entirely on Honiton hospital and did not even mention Seaton. Certainly, the threat to Honiton is greater: it would lose all its beds under all 4 options consulted on, whereas under 2 options, including the one the CCG prefers, Seaton would keep its beds.
However there is a serious threat to Seaton. Your colleague Hugo Swire, MP for East Devon, says that if it is necessary to choose between the 4 options the CCG has put on the table, ‘option B, which sees the beds retained in Tiverton, and also in Sidmouth and Exmouth, is the option worthy of support’. This would mean Seaton losing its beds.
Against this false choice between Seaton and Sidmouth, you were absolutely right to say: ‘I really feel that all our MPs across the whole of Devon need to unite, because over the last two years the number of beds in our community hospitals has been halved. I rather fear that we will be standing here in two years’ time saying that they have been halved again. Rather than fighting between each other over which hospitals are kept open and which are closed, let us fight all the closures across Devon. Otherwise we are just being picked off one by one, Minister, and this is not the way to run a health service in Devon.’
However I put it to you that the only way we will not be forced to choose is if the Government finds more money for the NHS. The NEW Devon CCG’s deficit stands at £122 million and is careering towards £384 million by 2020. To offset this, the CCG’s ‘Success Regime’ – a strikingly Orwellian name – is desperately looking to cut costs, but all the ‘efficiency savings’ in the world will not deal with the problem.
Nursing costs for 16 beds in a community hospital are £914,000 per year. 24 beds may cost £1.32 million. Clearly even closing all community beds would still leave the CCG looking for huge savings elsewhere. A year ago I developed a hernia and was told the CCG policy was that I should try to live with it. The advice was rescinded and I had my operation, but I fear many people with ‘routine’ conditions will soon receive similar advice if the Government does not act.
NHS funding is a problem across Devon and the whole of England. The RD&E Trust and the Torbay and South Devon CCG are also in deficit. Nationally NHS bodies have combined deficits of £2.45 billion and rising. The Head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, told Parliament this week that the NHS has not been given the minimum funding it needs to meet its commitments in 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Apparently the Prime Minister has told Mr Stevens the NHS must live with the allocated money and follow the example of the Home Office in making savings. Mr Stevens replied that ‘while crime had fallen in recent years, demand for NHS care had risen, was still growing and would continue upward. For example, demand for cancer care had risen 55% over the past five years.’ The Royal College of Physicians says, ‘demand increases by 4% every year but, in real terms, NHS funding will increase by only 0.2% per year to 2020.’ The independent Kings Fund agrees: ‘The principal cause of the deficit is the fact that funding has not kept pace with demand.’
Will you now recognise that we need a serious change in Government policy if every year we are not going to face further bed closures and other cuts? The majority of people in East Devon voted to leave the European Union, and many believed the claim (which Boris Johnson backed) that the NHS could gain an extra £350 million a week. It is now clear that leaving the EU will not produce this sort of money – but these Leave voters were absolutely right to think that the NHS needs a lot more.
When the new Chancellor announced he was dropping the target of ending the national deficit by 2020, many hoped there would be extra funding for the NHS in his Autumn Statement. The Prime Minister has now ruled this out. Yet there are many ways that money could be found: halt HS2, rule out a third runway for Heathrow, outlaw offshore trusts, make global corporations pay the right tax in the UK.
If, as you say, ‘all our MPs across the whole of Devon need to unite’, what are they going to unite for? Not, surely, just to criticise the Success Regime’s consultation document. The problem is bigger than the CCG. The only answer that makes sense is more Government funding.
A year ago, many of us were impressed when you defied the Government over tax credit cuts. The NHS crisis is an even bigger issue, which affects us all. We are relying on you, as our MP, to make clear publicly that the funding situation is not acceptable. Will you now take the lead in demanding that the Chancellor amends his spending plans to provide the NHS with adequate funds, and directs a large chunk to Devon?
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.