Local community hospitals, including Seaton, will have to pay £3.1m a year in rent to NHS Property Services, in new fallout from the Conservatives’ disastrous reorganisation of the NHS. Seaton’s share of these supposed ‘market rents’ is not yet clear.
Thanks to Independent County Councillor Claire Wright for once again exposing this dangerous situation, which will surely threaten the closure of some hospitals in due course.
Independent County Councillor Claire Wright writes that community hospitals across Devon are to be ‘acquired by NHS Property Services which has the ability to charge commercial rents to NHS organisations’. Will NHS Property Services resist the temptation to up the rent and will the NHS Trust which runs the Seaton Hospital keep it and other hospitals going?
The combined effects of the decisions of the Conservatives in the last Coalition government (which the Lib Dems failed to stop), first to chop up the NHS into myriad organisations which deal commercially with each other, and second to cut the £16bn extra funding needed to only £8bn, are putting our community hospitals and many other areas of the service at risk.
Whatever relief we feel at the news that the number of general medical beds in Seaton Hospital will increase must surely be tempered by the fact that the clumsily named NEW (Northern, Eastern and Western) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, doesn’t even get the idea of community hospitals.
A NEW Devon spokesman, writing in this week’s View From, says that they have to take account of the ‘whole population’ of the area, not just specific ‘communities’. Community opinion in Axminster (and Ottery St. Mary, which will also lose its beds) has simply been set aside.
EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee, chaired for the first time in years by a non-Conservative (Independent, Roger Giles), has asked both MPs to request the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to overrule the decision to remove the beds from the two hospitals. Our MP, Neil Parish has already said he will do this for Axminster. I wish him well with this but I’m not holding my breath.
Parish says that ‘Our Government’s NHS legislation puts much store on local people being consulted and listened to’. However the Lansley reorganisation was universally criticised for creating a fiendishly complex structure which would make it more difficult for people to influence. And so it has proved.
Seaton Hospital – beds safe for now. But for how long?