Seaton Hospital

Vigil at Seaton Hospital on Monday 21st at 12, as bed closures are implemented

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On the initiative of Cllr Martin Pigott, Vice-Chairman of Seaton Town Council, there will be a vigil outside the hospital on Monday (21st) from 12 to 1 to protest at the closure of the inpatient beds in Seaton Hospital which will take place next week.

We will express our deep concern about the very future of Seaton and the other community hospitals, handed by the Government to NHS Property Services which will charge the RD&E a ‘market rent’ for the buildings despite the huge input of funds by the local communities.

There will also be a vigil at Honiton Hospital on Monday 28th August at 11 am. Please share!

The story of how the local community built Seaton Hospital is now online

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A new page on this site will collect together key information about the Hospital and the campaign to save it. The page has been launched by making available the story of the building of the Hospital thirty years ago, told in Mary Wood’s booklet, That’s What Friends Are For. You can now read the full story by going to the Seaton Hospital page.

RD&E briefing on local services doesn’t even mention Seaton or Honiton Hospitals

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Following the announcement that beds in Seaton and Okehampton hospitals will close next week, and those in Honiton the week after, the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust has circulated this document: YFC implementation Locality Briefing FINAL UPDATED.

For the Seaton, Axminster and Sidmouth area, listing ‘Services in the locality’, only Sidmouth Community Hospital is mentioned as such, with the ‘Dementia Day Care Unit – Axminster’, and Hospiscare at Home (but no mention of the fact that this is based at Seaton Hospital). Likewise, for the Honiton and Ottery St Mary area, there is no mention of Honiton Hospital.

Clearly there is much work to be done in getting the RD&E to, first, recognise the existing out-patient services in the hospitals, and, second, develop them as centres for further services for which people currently have to travel to Wonford.

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.

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.)