Neil Parish MP
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?
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.
At the 2015 election hustings in Seaton, MP Neil Parish enthusiastically supported holding the Brexit referendum.
When Cameron announced the vote, however, he was for Remain, although neither he nor the local Conservatives did much obvious campaigning.
After the vote, Parish backed Boris Johnson, the chief Leaver, for the Tory leadership.
When Michael Gove forced Johnson out, Parish plumped for another Leaver, Andrea Leadsom (the one who robotically repeated ‘We need to take control’ in the TV debates).
Does it even matter to Parish whether we’re in or out of the EU?
Our MP, Neil Parish, is listed as one of 72 mainly Tory MPs who are landlords and voted against a Labour amendment to the Housing Bill which sought to establish “Implied term of fitness for human habitation in residential lettings”:
“This new Clause would place a duty on landlords to ensure that their properties are fit for habitation when let and remain fit during the course of the tenancy.”
As the threshold for registration with Commons authorities is £10,000 rent per annum, other landlord MPs who did not have to register their interest may also have voted against this amendment. 39% of Tory MPs, 26% of SNP MPs and 22% of Labour MPs are registered as landlords, compared to only 2% of the general population.
Our MP’s very short contribution to yesterday’s debate: ‘I agree with my hon. Friend wholeheartedly that we need to take action, however difficult. ISIL wants to destroy everything we believe in through its murderous acts. We need to act and to act now.’
It’s pretty certain that bombing Syria will increase ISIL’s support among radicalised young Muslims and lead to more ‘murderous acts’ in the UK. If bombing would defeat ISIL in Syria, this might be a risk that has to be taken. But it is difficult to believe that bombing, without effective local ground forces to take back territory, will remove ISIL. It is likely to kill some civilians, help the murderous Assad regime, and drive even more refugees to Europe.