• Health scrutiny committee requests financial case for community hospital bed losses

    19th September 2014 | News | Claire
  • The NHS consultation plans were published on Wednesday without financial information to put the proposals into context.

    The North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) proposes to close all in-patient beds at two community hospitals in East Devon –Axminster and Ottery. And close the minor injuries unit at Ottery.

    At yesterday’s Devon County Council health and wellbeing scrutiny meeting yesterday, I made a proposal for a recommendation that information on the financial case be provided as part of the consultation process.  This was agreed.

    Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital “rapidly running out of capacity”
    It emerged that the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital has significant difficulties in discharging patients for recuperation, due to limitations on suitable places to discharge patients to.

    Director of nursing, Emma Wilkinson-Brice, told the committee that the hospital was “rapidly running out of capacity” and that currently up to 60 patients were at the RD&E who didn’t need to be there.

    In answer to my question about the proportion of patients being discharged to a community hospital and how the trends had altered over 10 years, Ms Wilkinson-Brice replied that community hospital beds were “critical in the current model of care.”

    However, RD&E chief executive, Angela Pedder and Ms Wilkinson-Brice, supported the “hospital at home” scheme, as a way of dealing with future population growth. 

    I asked for a copy of a trend analysis on discharge from the RD&E to community hospital beds over a 10 year period. This information will be provided to the committee shortly and I am very interested in reviewing it.

    Will Ottery and Axminster Hospitals be sold off if plans for bed cuts go through?
    I asked NEW Devon CCG managers whether there was still a threat that community hospitals be sold off, if bed cut plans are approved.

    (I have seen correspondence suggesting that if the contract with the provider – Northern Devon Healthcare Trust – is not renewed – the hospital buildings may be transferred to NHS Property Services, which may sell them off).

    The reply from GP, Dr Alex Degan and CCG manager, Jenny McNeill, was that they were still working on overcoming this difficulty and were doing their best to convince central government to allow more flexibility. 

    Dr Degan said he thought that if the building was still used for health related clinics then hospital buildings would not be sold.

    The next health and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting will examine the consultation proposals in more detail on Monday 17 November, 2pm.

    This will follow a private briefing session with NHS managers in October.  I did ask that this briefing session be held with the press and public present but other committee members disagreed.

    Here’s the webcast – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/118343