• Closure of in-patient beds possible at three East Devon community hospitals

    14th June 2014 | News | Claire
  • Tamara Powderley of the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told East Devon District Council Scrutiny Committee Members on 12 June that the body was under extreme financial pressure, and “cannot afford the current configuration” of community hospitals. She said that they have as big a cash issue as Devon County Council (which is required by the Government to slash its spending by hundreds of millions of pounds).

    Dr Rob Daniels of the CCG, addressing the Scrutiny Committee with Tamara Powderley, said that the present model of five community hospitals – Axminster, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Seaton and Sidmouth – was economically inefficient

    The presentation did not include Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth – the other two community hospitals in East Devon.

    Rob Daniels said that the five hospitals currently provided a total of 64 in-patient beds. He said that moving to three clusters – Axe Vale (Axminster and Seaton); Otter Vale (Honiton and Ottery); and Sid Vale – may provide a better spread of resources. Concentrating on three sites would see a minimum of 16 beds provided on each site (ie total 48).

    Rob Daniels also said that a two-site model was being considered. There was the possibility that in future only two of Axminster, Honiton, Ottery, Seaton and Sidmouth Hospitals would have in-patient beds.

    The committee was told that the CCG has no intention of closing any community hospital buildings.

    The EDDC Scrutiny Committee was to have been told about the “Integrated, personal and sustainable: Community Services for the 21st Century Full strategic framework document” issued by the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group. The document is out for consultation until 8 July.

    The document is written in a way which is hard to comprehend. It uses phrases such as: “wrapping services around individuals”, “as we shift to pathway approaches clarity on the outcomes for the combined set of services in a pathway will be central to future service design” and “wider benefits would be creating social capital and generating social value through co-production at a personal and community level that is inherent in this approach”.

    It implies reduced community hospital in-patient beds but is far from saying how many or where. It is so full of generalisations and contains so little that is specific that it is difficult to know just what it is, that consultees are being asked to comment on.

    The consultation document was not directly addressed by Tamara Powderley and Dr Rob Daniels. Instead, Rob Daniels gave a 24-slide presentation. The slides sought justification for the reduced hospital in-patient bed provision: “creating clusters allows us to deliver equitable care provision” and “there are significant benefits to the local health economy by having fewer larger units”. The slides contained a considerable amount of statistical information.

    Scrutiny committee members were told: “We are here to keep the conversation going; we are in understanding mode; we’ve started to share our story. It would be really good for some of you to come on the journey with us. We have to walk towards the future – not take giant steps.”

    A further consultation on the future of local community hospitals would take place commencing at the end of July or beginning of August, following which decisions would be made in November.

    Hopefully the people of Axminster, Honiton, Ottery, Seaton and Sidmouth and the surrounding villages will be told exactly what the NHS proposes to do with their community hospitals – so that they have the opportunity to make an informed response.

    Monday’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee starts at 2pm and is county hall in Exeter. It will be webcast live here – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/ 

    Here is the agenda –  http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/councildemocracy/decision_making/cma/cma_document.htm?cmadoc=agenda_she_20140616.html 

    BBC Spotlight ran a story last Wednesday evening, with interviews from me, Dr David Halpin and a GP from the clinical commissioning group.

    This would appear to be the biggest shake-up of community services for a generation.