• Plans for Ottery stroke centre no more than PR sticking plaster

    7th October 2014 | News | Claire
  • But in an unexpected twist, a few hours before the meeting started the local provider of healthcare, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, issued a press release stating that Ottery Hospital was going to be the centre for stroke care from next month.

    But only as a temporary arrangement until the service moves to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital next year.

    The press release also announced that extra medical beds would be provided at Ottery over the winter to ease the RD&E pressures of the cold weather.

    The move would bring more beds to Ottery Hospital than it has seen for years, boosting the beds to their full capacity of 24!

    See link to this Express & Echo article for more information – http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Plans-revealed-centralise-community-stroke/story-23055697-detail/story.html

    It prompted one retired GP, Dr Tim Cox, to describe the plans as thinking on the “back of a fag packet.”

    And it certainly came as quite a surprise to me and my co-chair, Roger Giles, as the consultation on the table from the healthcare commissioners, North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, was that all beds at Ottery should close and the minor injuries unit should also shut.  A loss of beds has been the consistent message from health managers addressing the health and wellbeing scrutiny committee, for a long time.

    The press release, issued just a few hours before the meeting felt rather like a PR sticking plaster and an attempt to take the heat out of an angry public meeting, which I said during my introductory speech last night, and where I set out the CCG proposals as I saw them. Link to previous blog post on my views here – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/health_scrutiny_committee_requests_financial_case_for_community_hospital_be

    I told residents that the plans in the press release were temporary and we should be discussing the proposals in the consultation document instead, as in a few months we were likely to be back to square one.

    Many people addressed the meeting and expressed their anger at the plans to close the hospital beds.  Several cited emotional personal experiences, such as the death of a partner and explained why they believed that hospital at home, or care in the community doesn’t work.

    Coleridge Medical Centre GP, Dr Simon Kerr spoke, representing the CCG. He outlined the problems facing the NHS – the financial situation is dire, with a looming £30m shortfall next year.

    But we have been told that the proposals to shut beds are not going to save money.

    Residents told of their concerns that about transport, the practicalities of providing care at home compared with providing 24 hour care in a hospital.

    Several people made the point that they had helped fundraise for the hospital and felt it belonged to the people of Ottery.

    Coleridge Medical Centre GP, Dr Nigel De Sousa, talked about his concerns that the NHS was being starved of funding. He said that government claims it was being ringfenced were “complete rubbish.” 

    He added that he wouldn’t like to see Ottery disadvantaged by losing its inpatient beds and minor injuries unit.

    Dr Tim Cox said he was worried about the possible additional loss of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and x-ray.  He described the extra journeys that healthcare staff would have to do in the hospital at home scenario as a “huge waste of resources.”

    Staff from Northern Devon Healthcare Trust outlined their plans for stroke beds, which served only to confuse people as managers said they were not going to close bed or the minor injuries unit. What they meant was that their organisation wasn’t going to do that. However, the CCG is proposing to do just that!

    But for most people, understandably, the NHS is the NHS – so talk of separate provider-commissioner plans just sounds like the right and left hand don’t know what each other are doing. It certainly felt like that yesterday!

    We took a vote on whether residents wanted to oppose the plans to close the beds and minor injuries unit. The response was a UNANIMOUS yes, with a small number of abstentions.

    I asked that people write to me with their examples and stories of how they, or a friend or relative had been cared for at Ottery Hospital.

    I want to put together a “book of care” to demonstrate how vital the hospital is to the community.  I have already been inundated with messages from people who are upset and angry about its proposed loss. If you have a story that you would like to share please email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or write to me at 3 Potters Close, West Hill, Ottery St Mary EX11 1YE.

    We received dozens of enthusiastic offers of help to fight the plans and a campaign group meeting is already in the process of being set up. It will take place in the next couple of weeks.

    At the end I reminded people of the previous campaigns I had been involved with including maternity. As well as the good news stories surrounding the youth centre and library, which, thanks to people power, are set to continue in a different form in the town….

    The main job for the campaign group will be to prepare a response to the consultation, which ends on 12 November. People can submit their responses to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    To read more about the plans see file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Claire/My%20Documents/Downloads/Eastern%20Commissioning%20Intentions%20FINAL%20(1).pdf

    Photograph thanks to Steve Pope: This Institute this evening, packed to the gunnells.