Axminster Hospital beds will close this winter

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:07 08 January 2015

MP Neil Parish who has been campaigning to retain inpatient beds at Axminster Hospital

MP Neil Parish who has been campaigning to retain inpatient beds at Axminster Hospital


Temporary move to Seaton Hospital is confirmed by NHS Board because of safety and staffing issues

Health chiefs have confirmed controversial plans to temporarily transfer inpatient beds from Axminster Hospital to Seaton this winter.

The decision was taken at a special meeting of the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust yesterday (Wednesday).

Afterwards the Board said it would now work with Axminster Hospital League of Friends over its £300,000 offer to help recruit extra nurses to resolve significant staffing and patient safety concerns.

In a statement said: “The Trust and League of Friends have agreed to immediately take the next steps to use the money to reinstate inpatient beds at Axminster community hospital.

“Due to the immediate issues around staffing and safety at Axminster and Seaton hospitals and the time required to recruit extra nurses, the board felt it had no option but to temporarily merge inpatient services into one 18-bedded unit at Seaton in order to resolve the risks.

“The decision, made at an extraordinary board meeting on Wednesday 7 January, follows a month-long public consultation over whether the proposed transfer to Seaton should take place or other options should be considered instead.

“Roger French, Trust chairman, said: ‘I would like to thank all the people who put forward their views and suggestions as part of the consultation.

“The board members were very clear about the strength of feeling among the local community.

‘It was through this process that we were presented with the very generous offer by the League of Friends to help solve the issues over a short-term period. This allowed us to consider additional options as part of the consultation.

‘We are extremely grateful to the League of Friends and will look to work with them straight away to find a solution to bridge the gap between the imminent temporary transfer to Seaton and the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s long-term decision on the future of local services.’

“The urgent staffing risks centre on having rotas where there is only one registered nurse working on their own as the sole professional looking after up to 10 patients, an issue which was highlighted as a concern by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following its inspection of the Trust in July 2014.

“The Trust has often been on the cusp of not being able to sustain the nursing rota at Axminster and Seaton and is concerned about an over-reliance on agency staff.

“Mr French said: ‘This was an extremely difficult decision for the board and we recognise it will be met with disappointment by many people in and around Axminster.

‘The board agreed unanimously that, due to the urgent staffing and patient safety issues we are facing right now, we simply couldn’t sit back and do nothing.

‘An independent review of staffing and safety issues at Axminster, Seaton and other community hospitals – published this week – supported the Trust’s concerns and reaffirmed that we weren’t compliant with some national guidelines.

‘We looked very closely at the merits of both sites to house inpatient services on a temporarily basis and, although it was a tough call, Seaton was chosen due to its higher levels of illness and dependency of patients, larger catchment area, greater staffing resilience and lesser reliance on agency nurses.

These are more important when considering the current, well-publicised pressure on the health system as a whole.

Axminster Hospital will remain open for all its other outpatient clinics and services and this temporary decision over the beds will be completely reversible pending the outcome of the CCG’s wider consultation on the future of community services’.”

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