Many committee members expressed their concern at the findings and I seconded a proposal to hold a formal scrutiny investigation into the issue.

The first public speaker at the health and wellbeing scrutiny committee!

Following my proposal (voted through at full council last month) that public speaking rights should be introduced at all four Devon County Council’s scrutiny committee meetings, today’s meeting heralded our first public speaker – Dot Taylor who addressed the committee on her campaign to try and save St John’s Court – a mental health centre in Exmouth.

Her contribution was absolutely invaluable as it enabled committee members to take on board her views and ask more relevant questions of Devon Partnership NHS Trust representatives.

The fact that we could hear her testimony and views firsthand was incredibly helpful. I look forward to hearing many more public speakers in the coming months and years.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) receives serious rebuke from Chairman
Richard Westlake, Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny chairman issued a stinging rebuke today to Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (which runs community hospitals across Eastern and Northern Devon) which had been due to submit a report on community health services changes, Unfortunately, the report was not received until late yesterday afternoon, around one week after the agenda papers had been received by members. The organisation had been requested to submit paperwork in time for it to be circulated with the agenda papers but had failed to do so.

In addition, no one was available from NDHT to present the report.

Cllr Westlake announced he was pulling the item from the agenda on the basis the committee would not have had time to read it and scrutinise it properly. He said it was too important not to do this, adding:  “I am very disappointed at the way the committee has been treated by Northern Devon Healthcare Trust.”  Cllr Westlake will now write to the trust asking them to attend the June meeting instead.

Several members, including me, spoke up in support of Cllr Westlake’s views. NHDT’s frequently tabled paperwork, rather than submission in time for issue with the agenda papers, is hugely frustrating and I have raised it many times over the past three years.

Eastern Locality hospital bed losses
The task group scrutinising Eastern Devon’s hospital bed closures are set to meet before the June committee meeting, where we will have also agreed a response to the Torrington investigation, set up last June – much of the delay on this task group has been caused by long waits for information from the NHS.

Implications of NHS Property Services taking on Devon hospital sites
Today the committee also agreed to look at Devon community hospital land ownership amid fears that NHS Property Services may own some (or be intending to acquire NHS hospitals), with a possible outcome that it could charge commercial rents to cash-strapped NHS organisations.  Shocking if true.

Here’s the webcast – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/216727