Seaton and District Hospital League of Friends

I’m making a new proposal to safeguard community stakes in community hospitals, tomorrow at Health Scrutiny

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Here is my briefing note containing the proposal, to be considered at the meeting in County Hall at 2.15;
Ownership, Community Stakeholding and the Governance of Community Hospitals

Community hospitals in Devon have always been built and maintained with a high degree of community involvement and support. In many cases, local communities took the initiative to build the hospitals and raised substantial part of the original funding, or even the entire funding of additional wings and facilities, as well as contributing to staff and other running costs, the introduction of new specialist services, etc.

Unlike Private Finance Initiatives undertaken in partnership with private companies, these ‘community finance initiatives’ – which sought no profit from their investments other than the improvement of the facilities and services they enabled – appear not to have secured their interests in the hospitals they helped to build. The Leagues of Friends and others who raised funds for hospitals trusted that their investments would continue to be used for the benefit of place-based health services in their local area. 

Since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, however, the organisation of the NHS has changed and the ownership of NHS buildings is in the process of being transferred to a new company, NHS Property Services, wholly owned by the Secretary of State and charged with managing the NHS estate in line with national priorities. NHS Property Services is enabled to sell off parts of the estate and to charge NHS organisations market rents for their use of NHS buildings.

This change creates dilemmas for local communities which have invested in Devon community hospitals. Clearly Leagues of Friends and other local bodies, including town and parish councils as representatives of communities which have raised large amounts of funding, can be considered ‘stakeholders’ in community hospitals. However these community stakeholders appear not to possess formal rights in the ownership and governance of the hospitals.

The proposal is that the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny undertake an investigation into

1. The changing ownership and governance of community hospitals in Devon and its implications.

2. The historic and ongoing contributions of local communities and Leagues of Friends to funding the hospitals. 

The purpose of this investigation would be to address the question of

3. How community stakeholders’ interests should be secured in the future governance of community hospitals.

It is envisaged that in the course of this investigation, the Committee would both collect evidence and invite expressions of views from all stakeholders, including both local community organisations and NHS bodies, including NHS Property 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.

Seaton Hospital was built thanks to the local community

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IMG_0130Ted Gosling has lent me this booklet published in 1991 telling the story of the foundation of the Seaton and District Community Hospital (it must be in the Library?). The Seaton, Beer and Colyton community raised a third of a million pounds, about £1 million in today’s money, and was matched £ for £ by the Health Authority. Of course, the League of Friends has carried on raising money ever since.

Ted tells me that the campaign for the hospital in the 1980s stands alongside the defence against German invasion in 1940 as a rare moment when the whole Seaton community came together. We need to do the same for the hospital’s in-patient beds. Morally, the hospital belongs to us, not NHS Property Services!