District councillors slam decision to slash inpatient beds

PUBLISHED: 15:15 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:13 24 May 2017

Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

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Fears have been raised about the added pressure the move will put on communities in the 150 square mile area of the district that will be left without local health care.

East Devon council bosses have condemned the health body responsible for scrapping over a hundred beds at a number of community hospitals.

Fears have been raised about the added pressure the move will put on communities in the 150 square mile area of the district that will be left without local health care.

It comes after a decision by the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG) to axe 42 inpatient beds at the Seaton and Honiton hospitals.

The Herald previously reported the body’s move after a 13-week ‘Your Future Care’ public consultation.

The community hospitals in Axminster, Ottery St Mary and Budleigh Salterton have already seen their inpatient beds scrapped and, in September, 24 more beds will be axed in Seaton and 18 from Honiton. Across the county a total of 140 inpatient beds will be lost from community hospitals leaving just 72 beds at Tiverton, Sidmouth and Exmouth. The changes will effect around 20 patients a week in the localised area, from Axminster in the East and Tiverton in the North to Exmouth in the South and Okehampton in the West.

At a meeting last night (Wednesday, May 18), district councillors slammed the move and approved a motion which condemned the CCG’s decision to scrap the beds before putting an effective home care resource in place.

The motion also included a request for Devon County Council’s health and wellbeing board to demand independent evidence from the CCG, proving the home care option was working to, at least, the same standard offered by the inpatient beds.

They also called for the MIU and maternity unit in Honiton to remain ringfenced and protected until a review in three years time and for a letter to be sent to new MPs, after the election, urging them to stop further cuts.

Mrs Di Smith, from Seaton, spoke at the meeting and said: “The chosen hospital, Sidmouth, will have to serve all of the communities in both the Sid and Axe valleys plus some surrounding areas.

“This is a vast catchment area where it would involve four or more bus journeys plus waiting times which could take up the whole day – this is totally unacceptable.

Councillor Cathy Gardner said the NHS NEW Devon CCG was in “dire financial straits”, adding: “I worry many people don’t realise the effects these cuts will have on special care for their friend, family and themselves.”

A spokesperson for NHS NEW Devon CCG said: “The CCG has always been clear that no beds will close until we are assured of readiness for implementation of the out-of-hospital model.

“This assurance will be sought from a panel involving GPs, consultant geriatricians and other professionals, managers and stakeholders.”

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