Devon community hospitals

Shouldn’t we be looking again at community hospital beds, to support care-at-home model? Devon Conservatives squash recommendations of review chaired by Claire Wright

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Claire Wright writes: A recommendation urging no further community hospital bed closures in Devon has been voted down by Conservative councillors on Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee.

The recommendation, which was debated on Thursday (22 November) was part of a set of measures set out in a scrutiny spotlight review aimed at supporting the care at home service (or rapid response) to be more effective.

Highlighted in particular as a challenging area were services for end of life care, which have been put under considerable pressure, especially since the loss of community hospital beds. … read on at Claire’s blog

CCG proposals for Teignmouth, including a new health/wellbeing centre, relocating services to Dawlish and selling the hospital site, go to Health Scrutiny at County Hall on Thursday (2.15)

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The proposal to be presented will include ‘a commitment to support the vision of integrated services in Teignmouth and the further development of health and wellbeing services in a new centre on Brunswick Street involving the co-location of the three GP practice sites, the health and wellbeing team and the voluntary sector.’

In order to deliver this vision South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (now merging with NEW Devon CCG) says it would need to:

  • Relocate community clinics from Teignmouth Community Hospital into the health and wellbeing centre
  • Relocate specialist outpatient provision from Teignmouth Community Hospital into Dawlish Community Hospital
  • Relocate theatre services from Teignmouth Community Hospital into Dawlish Community Hospital
  • Reverse the decision following the consultation to establish 12 rehabilitation beds in Teignmouth Community Hospital
  • Close Teignmouth Hospital and sell the site for reinvestment in the local NHS.

The health centre will be built by private firm Health Innovation Partners and local people have been opposing the closure of the hospital (I was at their demonstration in June).

It seems likely CCG strategy director DID say that there would be no closures of East Devon community hospitals – but in a private meeting for councillors. Over to you again, @NEWDevonCCG: we need a definitive, detailed public statement

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Conservative councillor Phil Twiss has commented on East Devon Watch about my post yesterday. He says:

Happy to clarify that a discussion about provision of services in our local hospitals was raised at the Health Scrutiny Masterclass to improve knowledge (other Scrutiny committees hold similar cross party meetings as required), held on the 4th of October, which is open to all members of DCC. This particular one was attended by a broad cross party selection of Councillors, but not Martin Shaw or colleague Claire Wright who chose not take up the opportunity to hear from a variety of healthcare professionals at the Masterclass. My apologies to your reader for any confusion with the committee held on the same day.

I am delighted that local charity FORCE are now providing some chemotherapy treatments in Honiton, making it easier than travelling in to Exeter, with hopefully other services coming down the track; there is a clear ambition for healthcare hubs here and in the Axe Valley, where there is cross party work taking place to this end.

My reply on the same site:

Since Phil Twiss has clarified where Sonja Manton was speaking, but doesn’t comment on what she said, we must assume that he stands by his statement in the open Council meeting that she had confirmed there would be no closures of community hospitals in East Devon. If so, this is obviously very welcome, but the devil could be in the detail, and it is not good enough for such vital public information to be leaked to councillors in informal meetings. We need a public statement from the CCG, assuring us of the future of Axminster, Honiton, Ottery St. Mary and Seaton hospitals (as well as Okehampton which is part of the wider Eastern Locality).

Twiss’s comment that Claire Wright and I “chose not to take the opportunity” to attend the masterclass barely deserves a reply. However I have been dealing with a very difficult family situation over the last two months and this was one meeting which I had to pass up. I am not, in any case, a member of the Health Scrutiny committee, but since I was elected I have attended almost all its meetings, chiefly to support Claire in fighting for the community hospitals.

If the CCG now accept that the hospitals must stay, this will be a great victory for the campaigns in all the towns over the last few years, and for Claire, the Independent councillors at EDDC, and myself, who have supported local communities while the Conservatives have constantly left the door open for the CCGs to close them “where appropriate”, in the words of their most recent motion at the County Council.’

@philtwiss’claim that @SonjaManton said ‘there are no plans to close any community hospitals in our area’, not backed up by @NEWDevonCCG. What’s the explanation, Phil?

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Phil TwissConservative County Councillor for Honiton, Phil Twiss (right), told Devon County Council on 4th October that ‘Sonja Manton [Director of Strategy for the Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups] said at the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee the other week that there no plans to close any community hospitals in our area. We were talking about Seaton, Honiton and Axminster at the time.’

I was surprised that he should give us this good news in passing, and that the CCG had made no announcement of something so obviously important. So eventually I watched the webcast of the Health Scrutiny meeting on September 20th. Although Sonja Manton spoke several times, I couldn’t find her saying anything like what Phil said – indeed anything about community hospitals at all.

So I emailed Sonja and she confirms she didn’t speak about the hospitals. As for the issue, all she would say was, ‘I can assure you that our continued focus remains on planning and commissioning services and support to meet the needs of the Devon population in the best possible way. We recognise how strongly communities feel about community hospital buildings and will continue to work with communities and stakeholders to modernise and evolve the way our services are delivered and where they are based to make sure we make best use of all our resources and public estate.

So was Sonja more forthcoming at another, presumably private, meeting, Phil? Or was what you said wishful thinking?

Okehampton Times picks up my campaign for the hospitals at the County Council

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Okehampton, like Seaton and Honiton, lost its beds last year. Read their report.

Local Conservative councillors were scared to have their individual votes on community hospital closures recorded at yesterday’s County Council meeting

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The big question about why the Tories were so determined to add ‘where appropriate‘ to my amendment that the County Council should work to save ALL Devon’s community hospitals is: Which hospital do they NOT think it is appropriate to keep as a community health and wellbeing centre?

I mentioned in my speech that East Devon councillors like Phil Twiss (Honiton) and Ian Hall (Axminster) had made it clear that their hospitals should be kept. And not one councillor popped up to make it clear that, yes, their hospital was the exception.

Tory leader John Hart told me that Teignmouth was a case, because the CCG was funding a new health centre there. But Teignmouth people are up in arms about the closure of their hospital and Teignmouth councillor Sylvia Russell was certainly not volunteering to support its closure.

Yet as far as I know all these councillors, and East Devon Conservatives like Stuart Hughes (Sidmouth), Richard Scott and Jeff Trail (Exmouth), Sara Randall Johnson and Ray Bloxham (Exmouth), voted to add the ‘where appropriate’ get-out (which presumably they think may be used for someone else’s hospital).

I say ‘as far as I know’ because the Tories also voted not to have their votes recorded on my amendmentAs far as I know, all those mentioned also voted for this suppression of information, too! If I have inadvertently maligned anyone, in the absence of this information being recorded, please let me know.

The only Conservative who did not support the get-out was, as I said in my last post, Dartmouth councillor Jonathan Hawkins, who spoke movingly about the plight of his community since their hospital was closed.

Claire Wright and I win a commitment from the County Council to work to save ALL Devon’s community hospitals, although the Conservatives can’t stop themselves adding get-out clauses

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In a hour-long debate in yesterday’s meeting, the Council adopted proposals which Cllr Claire Wright and I, the two Independent members from East Devon, put forward, in place of the original recommendation by the Cabinet.

IMG_0272The ruling Conservative group adopted (with a small addition) the wording of my amendment, which Claire seconded, which proposed to influence NHS decisions in the direction of retaining all community hospitals to be used as health and wellbeing centres for their areas, in place of the original Cabinet recommendation to merely seek ‘decision making appropriate to individual circumstances, including population need and the quality of building.’ 

This is an important change in direction by the Council, which is now committed for the first time to work to retain ALL hospitals, as Claire (who proposed the original motion) had requested. The Conservative leader, Cllr John Hart, insisted on adding the words ‘where appropriate’ to my proposal, which we opposed because it provides the NHS with additional leeway to close hospitals. Cllr Hart’s addendum was too much for one Conservative Councillor, Jonathan Hawkins (Dartmouth), who voted with the opposition for my amendment without this addition, in the light of his community’s experience of the closure of Dartmouth Hospital. 

The Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups could end this controversy with a clear policy statement that all remaining hospitals will stay open and will be supported as health and wellbeing centres for our communities. Until this happens, Claire and I, with the support of tens of thousands of people around Devon who are fighting for their local hospitals, will continue our campaign. On yesterday’s evidence, we are winning.

WATCH the debate online.