Seaton council warns hospital bed cuts could cost lives

PUBLISHED: 15:15 20 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:30 23 December 2016

Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Seaton Hospital. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

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In-patient provision is greatly appreciated by the community, say councillors

Seaton Mayor Marcus HartnellSeaton Mayor Marcus Hartnell

Seaton Town Council has expressed its strong opposition to planned changes to healthcare provision in the region – warning it could cost lives.

NHS bosses have launched a public consultation on their plans to cut 72 hospital beds in a cost-saving exercise.

Of four options proposed by the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the preferred plan would see Exmouth’s 16 beds retained, along with 32 beds in Tiverton and 24 beds in Seaton.

But another option would see Seaton lose all its beds.

In its official response to the consultation agreed last week Seaton Town Council says new model of care, as a replacement for in-patient beds, is “a risky and potentially life-threatening proposal and is not supported by the people of Seaton.”

Mayor Cllr Marcus Hartnell tells health officials: “Seaton Town Council has comprehensively reviewed the proposals, including holding a public consultation event chaired by Cllr Martin Pigott to gather the views of local residents, GPs and health professionals. Our final response is a very clear message…the proposal is not supported by the people of Seaton.”

Amongst the points it makes is:

“Given the closure of beds in Axminster Hospital, Seaton Hospital’s 24 beds now serve a population of 25,000 across the whole Axe Valley.

“We note the strong support for the Seaton provision from residents, town and parish councils, and ward councillors in Axminster and villages around the area.

“The consultation has shown that the beds are hugely appreciated by the local community, and the 300-strong public meeting in Seaton Town Hall showed unanimous support for keeping them.

“Seaton Town Council is utterly opposed to any policy which removes the beds from Seaton Hospital.”

Here is the council’s full response to the CCG’s consultation:

This Council, having listened to the views of medical professionals and the local community in Seaton, resolves to make the following response to the NEW Devon CCG’s consultation:

1. Whilst we recognise the risks to patients of prolonged hospitalisation and the advantages of home care to many patients, many people do not have family locally to support home care, and the introduction of the new system simultaneously with bed closures is a high-risk strategy. Inadequate local authority adult social care is contributing to increased bed-blocking and improved social care needs to be assured before hospital beds are further cut.

2. Even if the balance of care should be shifted in the direction of home care, we note strongly expressed local feelings that there will always be some (especially elderly) patients for whom local hospital care is necessary, and the recent view of the Royal College of Surgeons that nationally, current over-high occupancy rates argue against further cuts to hospital beds.

3. We consider that the demographics of the Seaton and East Devon justify a higher level of beds provision than in many other areas. Not only do we already have among the highest proportions of over-65s and over-85s in the country, but the Office of National Statistics projects 12 per cent new immigration into East Devon up to 2022, almost all of it from within the UK and including a large proportion of retirees.

4. It is unrealistic to think that a rapid shift in the balance of hospital to home provision on the scale proposed by the CCG can be made without risking the standard of patient care. The CCG has not demonstrated that the proposed new model of NHS home care will be sufficiently funded and able to recruit enough staff to operate across Devon, especially in remoter areas. Piloting in North Devon will not provide a sufficient basis to roll out the new model across East Devon, with its much larger population of very elderly people. We agree with the view of local GPs that displaced hospital staff will not necessarily take up new home-care roles. We therefore believe that the proposed model needs to be introduced gradually and proved to be safe, before any further beds are removed anywhere in the NEW Devon area.

5. Given the closure of beds in Axminster Hospital, Seaton Hospital’s 24 beds now serve a population of 25,000 across the whole Axe Valley. We note the strong support for the Seaton provision from residents, town and parish councils, and ward councillors in Axminster and villages around the area. The consultation has shown that the beds are hugely appreciated by the local community, and the 300-strong public meeting in Seaton Town Hall showed unanimous support for keeping them. Seaton Town Council is utterly opposed to any policy which removes the beds from Seaton Hospital.

6. Seaton Town Council recognises the financial difficulties of the CCG and we made representations to the Government, through our MP, Neil Parish, for additional resources for the NHS in Devon in the Autumn Statement. We are very disappointed that the Government produced no new money either for the NHS or for social care, despite many representations. While we realise that this increases the CCG’s policy difficulties, we note that the £7m cost of the Success Regime exceeds the cost of keeping beds for a considerable time. NEW Devon CCG should review the expenditure on management and administration as a means to realise savings that could be used to provide care, rather than divert funding from in-patient beds.


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