‘Dark day for hospital’ after bed cuts planned in Honiton

Honiton hospital entrance. Photo by Terry Ife ref mhh 4439-48-11TI

Honiton hospital entrance. Photo by Terry Ife ref mhh 4439-48-11TI - Credit: Archant

Honiton’s community has reacted with shock and anger after plans were revealed to close the town’s inpatient beds.

The Herald reported on shock plans detailed in a consultation document released by NHS NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The document features four options for the future of services in the region – omitting Honiton entirely. Honiton did not appear in any of the shortlisted options because it ‘scored poorly on the travel time evaluation criteria’.

The preferred option would see the provision spread between Tiverton, Seaton and Exmouth, meaning Sidmouth could also lose all of its inpatient beds.

Reacting to the news, Heather Penwarden, chairman of Honiton Hospital League of Friends (LoF) group said: “This is a dark day for Honiton Hospital.

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“There has been a hospital in Honiton for many generations and we have been proud of how we have been able to care for the sick, elderly and vulnerable within our community.

“We have had no warning of these proposals so it has been a complete shock for us and all the staff at the hospital.”

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Heather has met with Rebecca Harriott, chief officer for Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, to hear more details of the proposal and to express concerns about the implications for Honiton patients.

A statement issued by doctors at Honiton Surgery said the partnership was ‘profoundly opposed’ to the withdrawal of inpatient services at Honiton Hospital.

“Honiton Hospital has offered an outstanding level of care for the people of Honiton for over 100 years, services which GPs have been proud to support.

“We believe that Honiton Hospital provides a vital service for our most vulnerable, frail and elderly patients, offering care by a team of doctors and nurses who have unrivalled knowledge of our patients’ background history and problems. We believe this standard of practice cannot be replicated by other models of care.

“We have significant concerns about the plan to replace inpatient services with a community care model.

“We have seen little evidence that the proposed model is adequately resourced nor the impact on primary and community care services assessed.

“We feel the proposed future model of care is wholly inadequate to support our practice population of increasing numbers of frail and elderly patients in a rural location.”

Honiton doctors also warned that the closure of the beds will result in an increase of frail elderly patients from Honiton requiring admission to the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.

This, they say, will ‘diminish the standard of care we are able to offer to our patients’.

The statement continued: “As a partnership, we also feel it is highly likely that the withdrawal of inpatient services will preclude the withdrawal of the remaining services offered at Honiton Hospital, with the likely loss of the Minor Injuries Unit, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, X-ray, maternity and out-patient services.”

The group is now urging interested parties who support preservation of inpatient services in Honiton to comment through the CCG’s planned consultation exercise.

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