• Health scrutiny cttee to ask to health select cttee chair to investigate Devon’s health funding

    21st September 2016 | News | Claire
  • I made the proposal at the latest health and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting on Monday (19 September) after a presentation from the Ruth Carnall, Angela Pedder and Joe Andrews from the “success regime”, who had outlined their plans for consultation, as well as making a case for significant cuts in health services across the county.

    The scrutiny committee will set up a task group to look into the funding formula for Devon.

    The public gallery was full, with dozens of people all of whom were wearing red to demonstrate their opposition to the “no red lines” approach to cutting services. They demonstrated on the steps of county hall before the meeting. I joined them and was interviewed by ITV Westcountry.

    Devon is one of three most financially challenged health areas in the country and as such is subject to a team of people (the success regime) who will cut costs by cutting services.

    If no cuts are made, we are told that there will be a debt of around £430m by 2020, across north, east and west Devon.

    Unbelievably, NHS England has told local health bosses that Devon gets more than its fair share of funding already!  A ridiculous position in my view, given the huge cuts that Devon’s health service is about to endure.

    The leaked controversial sustainable transformation plan, which details significant health cuts across Devon was not being formally scrutinised on Monday, however, councillors had plenty of questions on it.

    I took issue with one of the statements in the report submitted, in relation to beds. It stated that a third of community hospital beds are not used, as an argument for closing more.

    I asked where this information came from and Angela Pedder replied that it was from an acuity audit from last year. It turned out that it was the same document that I had been studying, where on page 10 it states that the occupancy rates for community hospitals (and acute hospitals) are between 90 and 95 per cent!

    We were told that the background information on this would be sent to us.

    I most definitely do not believe that a case can be made on cutting community hospital beds on the fiction that they are not needed. They are clearly very much needed.  And I don’t believe that there are adequate services in the community to support an alternative way of working that doesn’t involve community beds.

    Sadly Ottery St Mary Hospital lost its general medical beds last year. It currently has 15 stroke beds, but these beds will transfer at some point soon to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

    I really can’t see how continually cutting beds in this way will not harm patient care. I am convinced it will do so very much.

    We need to recognise just how much the conservative government has eviscerated our health service.

    Firstly, there is now no growth funding. It has flatlined. Just a few years ago it was around six per cent.

    Secondly, the government is forcing NHS trusts to continually make so called efficiency savings. The much trumpeted £10bn that the conservatives are ploughing into the health service is based on £22bn of so called efficiency savings.

    Thirdly, the funding formula is completely inadequate and needs radically overhauling to reflect the particular challenges that Devon faces – a growing older population with complex health needs, combined with a huge rural patch, with a range of health problems and pockets of deprivation.

    I worked in Devon’s NHS for 9 years from 1999 and 2008. For the most part it was a relatively well oiled machine. There was the odd cut but I remember organising public relations for three hospital openings – at Tiverton (2001), Okehampton (2002) and the re-opening of Budleigh Hospital after refurbishment (2004).

    Budleigh Hospital has now been shut for three years after a failed attempt to turn it into a health hub.  It is hoped it will reopen soon. But it won’t be a hospital anymore.

    There were countless new initiatives I was involved with, that came through with their own funding. 

    It is hard to recognise that time with the destruction we are now seeing wreaked on our NHS – locally and nationally.

    I place the blame wholeheartedly at the door of the conservative government. 

    Unfortunately, MPs (except the MP for Exeter and Totnes) do nothing except parrot the party line.

    The fact is that the government MUST plough more money into our NHS – or see it break down altogether. 

    I am attending a councillor briefing at county hall this afternoon, which I believe relates to community hospital bed losses across east and mid Devon – after which there will be a consultation starting on 7 October, for 12 weeks.

    I will blog the proposals, as soon as I can this evening, as the news will be announced publicly shortly after our briefing.

    If you want to see the health and wellbeing scrutiny debate you can view the itemised webcast here –