‘A wake-up call for East Devon … the threat is even more serious than the loss of beds last year’ – my letter in The Paper for Honiton on the fallout from Dr Kerr’s statement that Seaton and Honiton hospitals are ‘at risk’
It has been revealed that Dr Simon Kerr, Chair of NEW Devon CCG’s Eastern Locality, told a meeting with representatives of 38 Degrees on 5th April that Seaton and Honiton hospitals were ‘at risk’ in the CCG’s Local Estates Strategy due in July. His remarks were taken down by the 38 Degrees member who produced draft notes of the meeting, and have been confirmed by other participants, but have not yet been confirmed by the CCG.
Although the hospitals both lost their inpatient beds last summer, Seaton Hospital currently hosts over 50 outpatient services (and there are probably at least as many in Honiton). Both are vital community health resources, created with decades of financial and practical support from people all around the Seaton and Honiton areas.
As part of a move to promote ‘place-based care’, the CCG and RD&E are currently taking part in two ‘community health conversations’, Honiton’s Health Matters and Seaton and Area’s Health Matters, which local voluntary groups, town and parish councils etc. are involved in. However if place-based care means anything, it should mean that communities should keep their local hospitals as health hubs, with more rather than fewer services.
Together with Cllr Jack Rowland, who stood down as mayor of Seaton last week but remains the town council’s representative on the Health Matters organising group, have written to Dr Tim Burke, Chair of the CCG, to ask for an unequivocal assurance that the hospitals will remain open.
I am hoping to shortly announce a meeting of the hospital campaign group.
Following news a couple of weeks ago that the Dermatology clinic in Seaton Hospital had been closed, whether permanently or not is not clear (it was GP-led and the GP stopped doing it, I am told), comes the information that Dermatology appointments are not currently available in Axminster, either. You have to go to Exeter, where they’re booking for June.
This is one of the most highly used specialities in both hospitals and it is a serious setback that it is not available locally!
Shocking that consultants who led the Devon NHS ‘Success Regime’ have been given award for closing community hospital beds by @HSJnews – boasting that they avoided a referral to the Health Secretary
We are trying to move on and secure the best provision of community health services in the Seaton and Honiton areas – in partnership with the RD&E and CCG – after the flawed ‘consultation’ which resulted in our hospitals losing their beds.
However Carnall Farrar, the consultancy set up by Dame Ruth Carnall – who was also the chair of the Orwellian-named Success Regime – has won the Health Service Journal’s Partnership Award as ‘Consultancy of the Year’ for their work including the closure of community beds.
The citation, which does not mention Carnall’s position as chair, says: ‘A key area of work has been reducing the number of fit-to-leave patients in community hospital beds, which would pave the way to reduce beds. This has been achieved through developing community-based models of care, with clinical hubs and health and wellbeing centres.’ – No one seems to have told them that we have yet to see our health and wellbeing centres!
To rub salt into the wound, it concludes: ‘These changes have been managed without referral to the health secretary and with Carnall Farrar standing alongside local leaders at public meetings.’ – If this is what the award is for, surely it should have gone to East Devon Conservatives who scotched the referral? Or did Carnall Farrar do behind-the-scenes deals with our local Tory politicians?
An FoI request showed Carnall Farrar were paid over £600,000 for their work (in addition to Ruth Carnall’s salary). But they have since gained over £6 million for cutting services in Kent!
Health Scrutiny hears there will be no precipitate decisions on community hospitals – local conversations with CCG and RD&E offer chance to shape ‘place-based health systems’ around towns
In my third and final report from yesterday’s Health Scrutiny, I come to the report on the future of the hospitals by NEW Devon CCG and NHS Property Services, in response to the Committee’s request for clarification. (This arose from my presentations at the September and November meetings). While NHS PS stressed that in principle they will eventually have to charge market rents, Claire Wright elicited the useful information that currently NHS England are still paying for the buildings, and the company said they are ‘always happy to work with local communities to consider local services’. Scrutiny’s resolution requested that NHS PS ‘uphold this undertaking’ and keeps the Committee informed on the timeline for changes in the status of the hospitals.
The CCG’s Sonja Manton confirmed that the community conversations the CCG and RD&E are now promoting to develop ‘place-based systems‘ around ‘market towns’ – which have already begun in Honiton and Okehampton – can certainly include the services people want to have delivered locally in the hospitals. While there are cost constraints and not everything which people want will necessarily be delivered, local communities can certainly discuss these services with the NHS organisations, as well as how voluntary organisations can help the NHS and adult social care. Okehampton’s Conservative county councillor, Kevin Ball (below front left, with Non-Aligned Group leader Frank Biederman behind), stressed the progress his community had made in the recent meeting in the town. He and Okehampton’s mayor, Jan Goffey, mentioned that FORCE Chemotherapy will soon be opening a service in the hospital.
In my speech (1:34:20) I welcomed the new ‘place-based’ focus and stressed the importance for towns like Seaton – which is 45 minutes to an hour from acute hospitals – of using the free space in the community hospital to deliver routine treatments and operations for which people currently have to go to Exeter. I pointed out that constituents complain to me all the time about the stress, strain and cost of repeated travelling, often when unwell, without parking, park-and-ride space or bus services – while Exeter complains of congestion!
I mentioned the request of the RD&E’s Em Wilkinson-Bryce, in Honiton last week, for the community to trust the NHS organisations, and said that a serious conversation about local services – in which the NHS takes on board what people want – would be the best way to create this. We wanted to keep the beds, but now they are gone proper ‘place-based’ strategies for each of our towns offer the prospect of working together with the NHS. Preparations are underway for a meeting similar to ‘Honiton’s Health Matters’ in Seaton in March, and I will give more information as soon as the date is fixed.
‘Absolutely no change to physiotherapy services at Seaton’, I am assured, despite removal of some equipment
Residents have contacted me because some equipment has been moved from the gym, part of the radiotherapy area at Seaton Hospital. I have spoken to Theresa Denning, the Locality Manager based at Axminster who is responsible for physiotherapy, and she assures me that ‘there is absolutely no change to physiotherapy services at Seaton’. She tells me that some under-used equipment has been moved to make room for other equipment to be used by the community rehabilitation team to treat patients who are being brought in from home. Seaton Hospital reception also confirmed that they are continuing to book physiotherapy appointments as and when needed.