NHS bosses are allowing people more time to have their say over controversial proposals to shake-up community health services across East Devon and beyond.
In September the North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is £14m in debt, announced its aim to improve care in the community, increasing the number of healthcare professionals and therefore close hospital beds to fund this change.
The CCG launched a 12-week consultation process in September which was due to end in December, but it has now announced an extension to its consultation period until February 15.
Under the plans, all inpatient beds will close at Ottery St Mary, Axminster and Crediton hospitals, as well as Ottery’s Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).
Meanwhile, Exmouth, Honiton and Tiverton will become Urgent Care Centres serving the surrounding communities.
The CCG’s Transforming Community Services document for Eastern Devon explains that the healthcare vision is for a model where community healthcare is more closely integrated with social care.
On Wednesday, January 14, county councillors from Honiton, Axminster, Seaton, Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary and hospital league of friends representatives, will meet with CCG clinicians and managers.
They will discuss forming a local stakeholder group, which will work with the CCG as part of the extended consultation, to hear further information before any long-term decision is made about the future of community hospitals and services.
Steve Holt, treasurer of Axminster Hospital League of Friends, welcomed the move, adding: “From the initial presentation of the transforming community services documentation, we in Axminster have been striving to engage with the CCG and its service providers to look at the future from the community’s perspective.
“We welcome this opportunity which will hopefully enable us to achieve a harmonious outcome for a robust service across the whole locality which meets the needs and wishes of patients.”
Ottery’s MIU closed until further notice in November due to under staffing issues. In the interim people are sign posted to the unit at Honiton.
Around 40 Ottery residents staged a protest at the steps of county hall in November, ahead of a meeting of Devon County Council’s overview and scrutiny committee which voted to oppose the plans and request more information, including financial information, regarding the reasons for the closures.
County ward member for Ottery St Mary, and committee member Councillor Claire Wright, has also long called for details of the financial justification for the proposals and said the lack of information is akin to a lack of transparency in the process.
The meeting, at 7pm, will be held in public, but is not a public meeting meaning that members of the public will be invited to attend and observe only.
There is limited space and anyone wanting to attend is required to book a place by phoning 01392 356102.
Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis and will be limited to 14 places for each of the five towns; Honiton, Axminster, Seaton, Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary.
More information about the proposals for the Eastern locality can be found on the CCG’s website, http://www.newdevonccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/get-involved/community-services/eastern-locality-commissioning-intentions/101251