I have written to @CllrIanThomas, incoming EDDC leader, for assurances on health services and hospitals, after Conservative amendment leaves East Devon community hospitals vulnerable to closure

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In a debate at EDDC on Wednesday Independent East Devon Alliance councillor, Marianne Rixson, proposed a motion ‘requesting the NHS organisations to observe the following principles:
1.  All community hospitals which have lost beds should be maintained as health hubs.
2.  Wherever possible, services and clinics should be moved out of Exeter to local community hospitals.
3.  More outpatient services should be provided in each community hospital, with no overall cuts to the level of services in any town in order to minimise complex journeys between towns.’
image1I was disappointed to hear that this motion was completely replaced by an ‘amendment’ (left) proposed by Conservative Councillor Mike Allen, which was then carried.
I have written the letter below to express my concerns to incoming Council leader, Ian Thomas, the member for Trinity ward, to ask him to join me in pressing for each of our hospitals to be kept as a hub for outpatient services.
Dear Ian, 
Belated congratulations on your nomination to lead EDDC, which I assume will be agreed at the Annual Meeting in a fortnight’s time. I am writing following last week’s Council resolution on health, to ask for your clear support for keeping all community hospitals in East Devon as health hubs. As this is a matter of great public interest, I shall make this letter public.
Since I could not be present at the meeting, I will not comment on the procedure adopted, except to inform you that members of the public have complained to me about the way Cllr Rixson’s motion was ‘amended’ by Cllr Allen. My concern is rather that the resolution potentially increases the vulnerability of some of our community hospitals to closure when the CCG announces its Local Estates Strategy.
I welcome the resolution’s call for the CCG to provide ‘evidence-based forward plan of proposed changes to health services in East Devon, for initial discussion at a future Cabinet’, and the reference to ‘consultation with local communities’ about community hospitals, as well as the review of service changes (bed-based to home/community-based care). You will need to press hard on the latter, as Claire Wright has been asking for it repeatedly without success at DCC.
My worry is that the resolution removes the benchmark assurances that Cllr Rixson’s motion sought. While the resolution says that all efforts should be made, in consultation with local communities, to ensure the existing estate of community hospitals is retained for health care purposes, it only recommends that, Where appropriate, the potential development of “Health Hubs” be investigated. 
Unfortunately this can clearly be read as implying that hubs will not necessarily be appropriate in every hospital – and that EDDC might therefore accept the closure of those hospitals which are not developed as hubs
I remind you that when the Conservatives fought the County elections last year, you said you wanted ‘bed-less hospital buildings adapted to accommodate new health-related services and boost community health provision‘. There was no suggestion of any exceptions then.
I would like you to give an explicit assurance that you will join me in pressing for
(1) each of the hospitals which has lost its beds (Axminster, Honiton, Ottery and Seaton), as well as Exmouth and Sidmouth, to be kept open;
(2) achievement in each hospital of the ‘boost’ in health provision which your 2017 policy rightly asked for – and any in any case no overall cut in services in any of them; and
(3) a formal public consultation in the affected town and surrounding area should a closure of any community hospital, involving substantial relocation of outpatient services, be proposed.
Kind regards,

Coming to a site near us before long? Hospitals knocked down to build houses which nurses can’t afford

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from The Guardian 9 January 2018

Four out of five homes built on former NHS sites that have been sold off to private developers will cost more than nurses can afford, according to new research.

Fifty-nine NHS sites, including many former hospitals, have already been sold to housebuilders as part of the government’s public land sale programme to boost housing supply. But the large majority will be unaffordable to nurses, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF) thinktank. It found that in London none of the homes will be in reach.

Neither are the new developments adding much to the supply of affordable or social housing, the NEF found. Across the UK, only one in 10 of the homes built on the sold-off NHS sites analysed will be available at social rent. The average sale price is expected to be £315,000 – 10 times a nurse’s average annual salary.

The Royal College of Nursing has previously warned that high housing costs could force 40% of nurses out of the capital by 2021. For newly qualified nurses the price of a typical first-time-buyer home is 16 times their salary in inner London, seven times in the West Midlands and six times in the north-west of England, the RCN said.

In Colchester, Essex, the former psychiatric hospital Severalls is being transformed into more than 700 homes, none of which will be affordable to nurses and only 87 of which are classed as “affordable”, the NEF research showed. In St John’s Wood, north London, an NHS site has been sold to developers building three five-bedroom homes expected to cost around £3.75m – 121 times a nurse’s annual salary. There will be no affordable housing.

Persimmon, whose chief executive, Jeff Fairburn, is in line for a bonus worth over £100m, is developing the site of Pontefract general infirmary in West Yorkshire with 117 homes, only seven of which will be social or affordable housing. However, the prices are mostly below £200,000.

The report, No Homes for Nurses, estimated it would take a midwife over a century to afford the deposit for a market-rate home in Enfield where Chase Farm hospital is being redeveloped into 138 residential dwellings. Only 19% of them will be affordable, despite the borough having a target of 40%.

“These NHS sites are community assets – they should be used to deliver community benefits,” said Joe Beswick, housing lead at NEF. “Public land, which is owned by all of us, is being flogged off to developers so they can make massive profits, while producing a tiny amount of affordable housing.”

“This is a government with the wrong priorities on housing,” said John Healey, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for housing. “Ministers should be maximising the number of new genuinely affordable homes on public land, not treating low-cost housing as an afterthought.”

The government has identified surplus Department of Health sites with capacity for 26,000 homes. Between 2015 and 2017 it was expecting to sell sites for 4,000 homes.

In November, the government announced nurses would have first refusal on affordable housing generated through the sale of surplus NHS land. But the NEF argued that in London even affordable rent, which can be as high as 80% of market rent, is not affordable for nurses.

A government spokesperson said: “Since April 2010 there have been more than 357,000 affordable homes provided in England, but we’re aware that more needs to be done, which is why we’re investing over £9bn in affordable housing.

“For NHS staff in particular, we announced plans in October last year to give first refusal on affordable housing schemes built on NHS land sold for development.”