Concerns over recruitment for new ‘care at home’ model after East Devon hospital bed closures

PUBLISHED: 07:30 19 February 2018

Dr Mike Slot

Dr Mike Slot

Archant

East Devon’s MP is calling for the district to be used as a ‘guinea pig’ for the integration of health and social care, after a Sidmouth GP voiced concerns.

Sir Hugo Swire said the area’s demographics are 20 years ahead of the national average and it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ the two services should have separate funding.

This comes after Dr Mike Slot raised concerns to Devon’s health watchdog that carers are not available to implement ‘care at home’ – the model the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) moved to after it closed 140 community hospital beds across the county.

Dr Slot said: “The loss of community hospital beds was intended to be offset by increasing the capacity of community care so that patients could be cared for in their own homes.

“This may or may not have been realistic since many of the patients in the hospital system cannot be managed in the community, even with excellent community services.

“However, with or without community hospital beds, it is an excellent idea to expand community services so that all those patients who can be cared for out of hospital can remain at home.

“Unfortunately, there is not sufficient capacity in the home care services to do this job.

“When GPs ring the single point of access number asking for rapid response or night sitting, the carers are not available.”

In a joint statement, the CCG and provider trust the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital acknowledged that recruitment had been ‘challenging’ in a few places, but the bodies were working hard alongside other agencies to address the issues.

A spokeswoman said more than £2.5million had been redirected into growing and strengthening their community teams so more people can be cared for at home.

They added: “A large part of the reinvestment has been to increase the number of nurses, therapists and support workers and in most areas we have successfully recruited the additional staff.”

Social care was brought under the remit of health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the last cabinet reshuffle – a move welcomed by Sir Hugo, who said: “I think in future there will be far greater use of hubs.

“We must look to do the same with social care. It requires brave, strategic thinking. We have to get it right.

“The East Devon demographic is where the country is going to be in 20 years’ time. Sidmouth is even ahead of that. East Devon should be a template – use us as a guinea pig for integration of health and social care.”

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