Protest over Seaton hospital bed closures

PUBLISHED: 14:16 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:52 24 August 2017

Bed cust protesters outside Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Bed cust protesters outside Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

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Mayor tells banner-waving crowds that the fight now is to save the actual hospital

A chilling message from a protester outside Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSONA chilling message from a protester outside Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Protesters waved banners and shouted ‘shame’ outside Seaton Hospital today (Monday, August 21) as health chiefs began implementing their in-patient bed closure plans.

A similar vigil will take place outside Honiton Hospital next Monday when the cuts are due to begin there.

Yesterday’s gathering was addressed by Seaton’s county councillor Martin Shaw who said the town had been badly let down, and town mayor Jack Rowland, who said that while they may have lost the fight to save the beds the battle would now begin to save the actual hospital.

The dates for the closure of in-patient beds in East Devon was announced by health officials last week.

Bed cuts protesters outside Seaton Hospital (l to r) Di Smith, John Ramsay and Judith Richards Picture: CHRIS CARSONBed cuts protesters outside Seaton Hospital (l to r) Di Smith, John Ramsay and Judith Richards Picture: CHRIS CARSON

In a statement the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said: “The NHS has given details of how it intends to implement its ‘Your Future Care’ plans to improve patient care across Eastern Devon, including creating new nursing, therapist and support roles.

“Your Future Care” set out proposals to move away from the existing bed-based model of care. Instead it proposed a model of care focused on proactively averting health crises and promoting independence and wellbeing.

“The plans were subject to a 13-week public consultation that closed earlier this year, following which the NHS NEW Devon CCG approved a way forward which enhanced community services to support more home-based care by redirecting and reinvesting some existing bed-based resources. The net result would mean an increase of over 50 community-based staff to support out of hospital care and a reduction in community inpatient beds across the Eastern locality of Devon.

“Detailed operational work began in this area with the introduction of the Community Connect out-of-hospital service in March which has already led to a reduction in demand for community inpatient beds.

“In order to achieve this transition safely, implementation will take a phased approach to redeploy and recruit staff to the additional nursing, therapy, care workers and pharmacist roles which will enhance community services in Exeter, East Devon and Mid Devon.

This will enable the reduction in inpatient beds – moving from seven community inpatient units to three.

The timetable for implementation is:

• Seaton Community Hospital week commencing 21 August 2017

• Okehampton Community Hospital week commencing 21 August 2017

• Honiton Community Hospital week commencing 28 August 2017

• Exeter Community Hospital week commencing 4 September 2017.

“The provision of inpatient services at these locations will cease from these dates. All other services at these hospitals will continue as normal. Patients in these areas in medical need of a community inpatient bed will be accommodated at either Tiverton, Sidmouth or Exmouth hospitals, depending on where they live.

“Over the past couple of weeks it has become apparent that the schedule for the closure of the in-patient units needs to be brought forward. This is due to the increasing pressures on safely staffing the current configuration of seven community inpatient units. Furthermore, now that the workforce HR consultation has been completed, 170 staff can be redeployed into the enhanced community teams and our hospitals to provide extra capacity and resilience to meet the demand for care for the people of Eastern Devon.”

Adel Jones, Integration Director at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is acknowledged that getting to this point in the process has not been without its challenges and I would like to thank all who have contributed to the development of the implementation plans.”

Dr Anthony Hemsley, Associate Medical Director at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital said: “Although the decision to reduce inpatient beds will only affect a small number of patients per week, we, with the support of the clinical assurance panel, are confident that our plans to provide more care at home are safe and ultimately will help more people to be independent.

“At the point of implementation, we will be able to redirect some of the existing bed-based resource into local community teams. Additional staff including community nurses, therapists and personal support workers will be there to provide greater provision and access to care and support. However, we know that there is still much more work to be done, particularly around prevention, wellbeing, recruitment of staff and availability of domiciliary care. This can only be done in partnership with communities and we at the RD&E look forward to continuing this work.”

Rob Sainsbury, chief operating officer for NEW Devon CCG, said: “Reallocating resources away from hospital bed-based care into more home-based and community care will really make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“It will ensure that everyone who needs the service in our community has the best access to good quality and sustainable health services and help people to stay independent for longer, with the benefit of being cared for closer to family and friends.”

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