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

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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

  1. 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; 
  2. 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
  3. 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

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Seaton Hospital League of FriendsI 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.IMG_0130

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.

The ‘Health Scrutiny Committee’ which didn’t scrutinise

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Fallout is growing from yesterday’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee at Devon County Council, which decided yesterday by 7 votes to 6, with 2 abstentions and 2 members absent, not to refer the closure of 71 beds in Seaton, Honiton, Okehampton and Whipton (Exeter) community hospitals to the Secretary of State. The vote means that the beds will permanently close in September and October.
‘A stitch-up’
This was the phrase most commonly heard among those who witnessed this meeting, including many  protestors (right).
Cllr Claire Wright (Independent, below) had prepared a detailed motion to refer the closures and had submitted it in writing to the Chair, Cllr Sara Randall Johnson (Conservative), before the meeting. However when debate began, Randall Johnson chose not to call her to speak but instead called fellow Conservative Cllr Rufus Gilbert who immediately proposed a motion NOT to refer, which was quickly seconded by Cllr Sylvia Russell.
claireThis blatant manoeuvre by the Chair meant that the committee never considered point by point, as Claire’s motion would have required it to, the 14 questions on which it had asked the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to satisfy it. The committee blocked a referral – without discussing most of the careful objections which local councillors, EDDC and residents have raised.
We are considering a formal complaint about the way the meeting was handled.

What this means 

This meeting was the last constitutional means to overturn the CCG’s unjust treatment of Honiton and Okehampton, whose hospitals were excluded from the consultation options, and Seaton, whose beds have been closed using misleading data, leaving the whole Axe Valley without community beds. The Scrutiny Committee should have challenged these failures of the CCG but the Tories have chosen to condone them.
Now we must worry about what happens to hospital buildings without beds. Seaton hospital was paid for by the local community but the Government has handed it (like all the community hospitals) over to NHS Property Services and is forcing the CCG to pay them a so-called “market rent” for space. This was one of the reasons why the CCG wanted to remove so many beds and it will also make them reluctant to develop out-patient services in the hospital.
The danger is that the CCG, in its rush to save money, will simply centralise hospital services in Exeter. This is incredibly bad for communities like ours which are such a distance from the RD&E. Yesterday’s bad decision will only lead to new issues which the whole of the Axe Valley will have to face shortly.’
Roll of shame
  • 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.
In favour of referring the decision
  • 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).
Six public speakers, Cllr Roger Giles (Chair of East Devon’s Scrutiny Committee), Paul Arnott (Colyton), Cllr Jan Goffey (Mayor of Okehampton), Cllr Mike Allen, Bob Sturtivant and Stephen Craddock (Honiton), spoke eloquently against the closures for two and a half minutes each. County Councillor Ian Hall (Axminster) and I also addressed the committee for five minutes each.

Motion criticising NEW Devon CCG at EDDC Scrutiny, 6.30 tonight

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‘That this Council is concerned that the NHS NEW Devon CCG takes little or no notice of public opinion or the views of elected councillors. When consultations are held, the NHS NEW Devon CCG does not appear to follow the considered and constructive responses, and presses ahead with its intended decision even in the face of considerable opposition.
‘This Council therefore calls on National Government to ensure that all NHS CCGs are completely open and transparent, and fully embrace the important principles of democratic accountability.”
Proposed by Councillor Ben Ingham, seconded by Councillor Cathy Gardner and supported by Councillors Marianne Rixson, Val Ranger, Megan Armstrong and Geoff Jung.

Bus filling up for County Hall next Tuesday

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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 cllrmartinshaw@gmail.com 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.

Health Scrutiny Committee will decide on hospital beds on Tuesday 25th July

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IMG_0276Campaigners in the Seaton and Honiton areas are preparing for a crucial meeting of Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 25th July. Following a meeting in June when they postponed a decision, this committee will now decide whether to use its power to refer the decision of the NEW Devon Clinical Commission Group (CCG) to close all in-patient beds in Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton hospitals to the Secretary of State for Health.
In March, the Committee sent the CCG 14 questions, from a resolution proposed by County Councillor Claire Wright, about the proposals to replace 72 of East Devon’s 144 community hospital beds by care at home. Cllr Wright and other committee members are expected to examine the 14 points in detail to see which of them the CCG has answered satisfactorily.
The questions included the justification for the surprise last-minute switch of beds from Seaton to Sidmouth, which left no beds at all in the Axe Valley, since Axminster has already lost its beds.
Among those who will be speaking against the plans are Seaton Mayor, Jack Rowland; the Chair of EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Roger Giles; Steve Craddock and Bob Sturtivant from Honiton; and myself.
This is a crucial decision not only for the beds but also for the future of the hospitals. The CCG’s next step is its local estate strategy, which may involve partial or even complete closures of hospitals. Seaton is more remote from acute hospitals than any other East Devon town and it is vital that we retain our hospital, which was built by the local community in Seaton, Beer, Colyton and the surrounding area.
As in June, protestors will gather outside County Hall from 1 pm, and will then observe the meeting which starts at 2.15. A bus is being organised to take people from Seaton to County Hall: anyone who would like to book a seat should contact me cllrmartinshaw@gmail.com or 07972 760254.
The many emails sent to committee members in June had a real impact. Here are their addresses if you’d like to write again:

Whose smell was it – was Hugo Swire behind the Seaton-Sidmouth switch?

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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? BothIMG_0518 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.)

 

EDDC backs call to refer hospital beds decision – Seaton switch rises up the agenda

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On Thursday, East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny Committee expressed ‘great concern‘ that under the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans ‘there will be no community hospital beds east of Sidmouth, leaving residents in a whole swathe of eastern Devon remote from the nearest hospital facilities.’
The Committee also agreed to write to Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, urging it to refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Health ‘as a matter of urgency‘ as it was ‘concerned that lack of an early submission will result in NEW Devon CCG going ahead with its proposals‘. This followed a claim from Councillor Mike Allen that staff were already leaving and patients being turned away from Honiton Hospital, a point I also made about Seaton Hospital.
Much of the discussion at the EDDC meeting reacted to the discussion at Devon’s Health Scrutiny Committee last Monday. Devon councillors had followed the recommendation of their Chairman, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, to postpone until July a decision on Councillor Claire Wright’s proposal to refer the CCG’s decisions to the Secretary of State for Health.
How many staff? – ‘What is required’ says CCG!
The Committee’s resolution was the outcome of two hours’ pressure from Committee members, other councillors and the public on the Chair of the CCG’s Eastern Locality, Dr John Kerr. The  resolution was proposed by Chairman, Councillor Roger Giles of Ottery St. Mary, who had interrogated CCG representatives on their proposals. He repeatedly asked ‘how many additional staff will be required’ for the CCG’s new model of care, only to be told ‘what is required’. Other members expressed doubt that enough new staff could be recruited.
Moulding backs Seaton
Cllr Giles’ proposals followed speeches by EDDC ward councillor Andrew Moulding of Axminster and myself for keeping hospital beds in Seaton. Councillor Moulding pointed out that not only Axminster, but also Axmouth, Uplyme and Rousdon, had been omitted from the CCG’s calculations of the population served by Seaton Hospital.
Keeping beds in Seaton has had tremendous backing this week, including not only from Councillor Moulding but also Councillor Hall from Axminster, and Mike McAlpine, Chair of the Committee for the Axe Valley Health Hub. Seaton’s Deputy Mayor, Martin Pigott, made an excellent case at County Hall.
CCG fails to answer 
It was very obvious that CCG representatives, Dr Sonja Manton at the Devon meeting and Dr Kerr at EDDC, refused to answer direct questions about the flawed case for axing Seaton’s beds. I am optimistic that when this comes back to Devon, councillors on the Health Scrutiny Committee will pick up the Seaton issue and we will finally get justice for our communities.
EDDC has put saving the beds back on the agenda and pointed the way for Devon County Council’s Scrutiny Committee to follow. I am very pleased at the strong cross-party case made for East Devon hospitals – especially the mounting support for looking again at the CCG’s completely indefensible abandonment of Seaton.

A frustrating day, but further chances on Thursday and in July to challenge the CCG

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The Health Scrutiny Committee meeting at County Hall yesterday was incredibly frustrating for the 60 or so supporters of Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton hospitals who attended. It resolved nothing and there will be another meeting before the end of July to consider the matter again (I will tell you when the date is fixed).
You can watch the meeting at https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/288543. The speakers in the public participation at the beginning were good, much better than most of the committee discussion. My speech is at 0.34.50. You may have seen that we also made a good splash on regional TV.
There WAS progress, I think, in pinning down the irrationality of the decision to close Seaton’s beds. Speeches supporting Seaton were made by Martin Pigott, Vice-Chair of Seaton Town Council, Mike McAlpine, Chair of the committee for the Axe Valley Health Hub, Cllr Ian Hall of Axminster, as well as myself. The issue was picked up on the committee, especially by Cllr Hilary Ackland, who twice challenged Dr Sonja Manton of the CCG on the issue. Manton declined to answer Ackland’s specific question.
I feel we can build on this at the re-run meeting. We also have an opportunity to challenge the CCG (who are answering questions from councillors) at EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee on Thursday at 6pm. EDDC doesn’t have any power but I think we should keep up the pressure on the CCG. I have put down to speak. If anyone else can do it – email Debbie Meakin dmeakin@eastdevon.gov.uk.
Would anyone who can come to this meeting – whether to speak or not – let me know (cllrmartinshaw@gmail.com)?
Thanks to all who came and who sent emails (they really had an effect).

Conservative candidate confirms her support for ‘bed-less’ hospital

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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.