NEW Devon CCG
After the failure of the July Scrutiny meeting, I am asking Devon County Council to look again at hospital bed closures on 5th October
After the failed Health Scrutiny Committee meeting in July – which has led to repercussions in the County’s Standards and Procedures Committees as well as at EDDC – the full Devon County Council will be asked to look again at the issues on Thursday 5th October. I have proposed the following motion, which Claire Wright will second:
The County Council regrets the failure of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee on 25 July 2017 to be seen to scrutinise the decision of NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to close community hospital beds in Honiton, Okehampton, Seaton and Whipton, especially in the light of the subsequent urgent recommendation by the head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, which is supported by evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the King’s Fund, that more beds need be made available for the coming winter.
Noting also the Standards Committee’s conclusion that events at the Scrutiny Committee meeting ‘may not reflect well on individual members of the Council or upon the Council as a whole’, its recommendations for the Committee’s Chair and its general recommendations to both members and chairs of Scrutiny Committees, the County Council therefore
- requests the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to scrutinise those issues identified by the County Solicitor in her paper for 25 July which were not directly and fully addressed at the Scrutiny Committee in that meeting;
- consistent with the Council’s ‘community champion’ role, alerts the Secretary of State to the strength of feeling in the locality at the overall STP process throughout the County and the significant numbers of objections made by the public to the CCG’sproposals and that in the interests of democracy and democratic accountability he might wish to satisfy himself that all relevant process were properly undertaken and assessed and that the CCGs subsequent decisions are supported by the evidence; and
- welcomes the agreement of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to examine, subject to the advice of the County Solicitor, means of safeguarding community hospital buildings throughout Devon as facilities for the provision of place-based health services.
Seaton and Axminster – combined health hub?
As I have reported before, Seaton Town Council, the League of Friends and I have been discussing the future of Seaton Hospital in the light of the removal of the beds. Full details of the proposals have not been finalised, so I can only quote the report of Councillor Jack Rowland, Mayor of Seaton, to next Monday’s Town Council:
‘The next campaign is to ensure that the site is retained with a compelling case for retaining the existing services and extending these. To this end I attended a meeting on 6 September to discuss the next steps. I cannot give fuller details at this stage, but broadly the idea is to set up a Steering Committee for an Axe Valley Health Hub and to work in conjunction with Axminster to build a case for retaining both sites with complementary services.’
Seaton Hospital League of Friends contributed over £3 million in today’s money over its first 25 years
I have been examining figures for the Seaton and District Hospital League of Friends’ contributions to the hospital.
It appears that the figure of £1 million in today’s money, based on the figures in Mary Ward’s booklet, grossly underestimates the contribution which the local community has made, through the League, to the building and running of the hospital.
I currently have full figures only for the first 25 years, from 1985 to 2009 inclusive. During this time the League contributed, taking all types of expenditure into account, £1,906,385.10 to the hospital in constant prices. However converting the annual figures into 2016 prices (using the Bank of England’s inflation calculator), the League contributed £3,012,425.42 over the period in today’s money.
I am waiting for fuller figures for 2010-17, as well as some clarifications on the nature of the expenditure, and I will post a more complete analysis when I have these.
I leave readers with a quote from Mary Wood, the first Matron: ‘The League of Friends is enormously grateful to the Exeter Health Authority for fitting the wishes of the people of Seaton and District into its financial plans. Over the past five years the Authority has backed us in the realisation of our dream. This must never be forgotten.‘
No one could say that of the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, which has sabotaged – with the support of leading East Devon Conservatives – the excellent hospital which the people of the area and the local NHS built up over the last 30 years. That too should never be forgotten.
- You can watch the meeting at https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/293466.
What this means
- The 7 councillors who voted NOT to refer the decision were all Conservatives: Sara Randall Johnson (Broadclyst), Richard Scott (Exmouth), Rufus Gilbert, Sylvia Russell, Paul Crabb and Ron Peart. John Berry and Jeremy Yabsley (both also Conservative) abstained.
- The 6 councillors who voted against this motion, i.e. to refer the decision, were Claire Wright (Otter Valley, Independent), Brian Greenslade and Nick Way (Liberal Democrat), Hilary Ackland and Carol Whitton (Labour) and Phil Twiss (Honiton, Conservative).
More people are coming on the bus to County Hall, Exeter, for next Tuesday, 25th, crucial Health Scrutiny Committee meeting, but there are still places left and we need to show councillors that the public are there and concerned about the issue. Please join us! (Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to reserve a seat on the bus – will cost £9-£10 return, depending on numbers.)
This meeting will finally decide whether to refer the hospital bed closures in Seaton and Honiton to the Secretary of State for Health. I will be speaking along with others from our area. We will be gathering to protest outside County Hall at 1 pm before the meeting at 2.15, which we will be observing.
A smug Hugo Swire MP told BBC’s Sunday Politics this morning that East Devon had more community hospitals than western Devon and than the national average. He failed to mention that it has many more over-85s too. He backed the NEW Devon CCG’s plans to replace community hospital beds with care at home, and said we must ’embrace change’.
Swire knows that beds in Exmouth and Sidmouth, in his constituency are safe from closure, so he is happy to write off Seaton (which he no longer represents after boundary changes a few years back) and Honiton.
Swire’s self-satisfied comments raise the question of whether he played any role in the CCG’s bizarre, unexplained, last-minute switch of 24 beds from Seaton to Sidmouth. Clearly had the CCG stuck with its original preferred option of closing beds in Sidmouth, they would have given Claire Wright a huge issue – which might well have seen her taking Swire’s seat in the general election.
Readers will recall that during the consultation, Swire was already saying that if beds had to go, they should stay in Sidmouth. Did Sir Hugo, or Tories acting on his behalf, lobby the CCG? How did the CCG respond? Both have questions to answer.
Swire’s colleague Neil Parish MP told me and other Seaton councillors that the decision ‘smells’. Whose smell was it?
I appeared on the same edition of Sunday Politics as Swire, but was not in the studio to respond to him. Here I am being interviewed!
Unfortunately the Labour MEP for the South West, Claire Moody, who was on with Swire, obviously didn’t know much about East Devon hospitals and failed to respond.
(YOU WILL BE ABLE TO WATCH THE PROGRAMME ON BBC iPLAYER SOON.)
In her election leaflet, the official Conservative candidate for Seaton and Colyton, Helen Parr, confirms her support for the East Devon Tory policy of accepting ‘bed-less hospitals’. Mrs Parr acknowledges that the decision to close in-patient services at Seaton Hospital is ‘a huge blow for the town and wider area’. But her leaflet adds, ‘Helen will do everything possible to get the best role for Seaton hospital for the future’, and will insist that the CCG are ‘delivering the services they are promising before any beds are closed’. So NOT supporting the Town Council’s fight to STOP the bed closures. You have been warned.