The East Devon locality county committee, which met this morning, also objected to the loss of minor injuries units in all East Devon hospitals except Honiton and Exmouth. And It requested urgent provision of financial from the NHS, to accompany the plans.
I made the proposal, which was seconded by Cllr Andrew Moulding, who represents Axminster and whose community is up in arms about the plans to shut all the hospital beds there.
Exmouth GP, Dr Tom Debenham and Tina Teague, from the North, East, West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) came along to explain the plans to the committee.
Dr Debenham said that moving the beds from Ottery and Axminster into other East Devon Hospitals would save approximately £500,000. He added that there was a big financial hole in the budgets and next year the CCG would be in deficit by £30m. Something had to be done to address the finance problem, he said.
Cllr Sara Randall-Johnson said that she welcomed the review of re-looking at delivering services, adding: “People get terribly emotional about closing beds. I am delighted that you are closing beds because I would much rather be in my own bed.”
Cllr Andrew Moulding replied that he did not see the plans so positively and he thought that the people of Honiton (Cllr Randall-Johnson’s ward) would be devastated if it was their hospital that was losing its beds.
He outlined the problems of significant population growth in East Devon in the coming years and said that we needed more beds, not fewer.
Cllr Moulding told the committee that the CCG was overspent due to “mismanagement and incompetence.” However, this was refuted by Dr Debenham (and to be fair I don’t think this is quite right).
I explained the pressure on discharging well patients from the RD&E, which is really difficult because of a lack of residential (recuperative) care beds, exacerbated by Devon County Council withdrawing funds to its residential homes across the county.
It is extremely hard for a GP to find a residential care bed for a patient to recover between the RD&E and home, but finding a community hospital bed is much easier and has a very short decision chain.
I asked the question (again) about costs, because although Dr Debenham had quoted a figure of a saving of £500,000, this figure does not include the costs of setting up of a “health and wellbeing hub”, as is proposed for Ottery, nor does it include the finances of a new way of working – nurses and other health staff travelling to people’s homes.
It seems to me that £500,000 is a drop in the budget ocean in any case.
Until we have the costs, no one can assess whether the proposals make any sense from a financial perspective, whatsoever.
From a patient care and efficiency perspective they are just plain wrong.
The vote in favour of my proposal to object to the bed losses and closure of minor injuries units in every East Devon hospital except Honiton and Exmouth, was supported unanimously.
Photograph: Retired Ottery GP, Dr Tim Cox, speaking against the plans to shut Ottery Hospital’s beds, at our meeting on 7 October.