Community hospital costs queried

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
9:14 AM

Concerns over a lack of cost information to accompany proposals for major changes to community hospitals have been raised by a Devon County Council (DCC) watchdog.

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At a meeting of DDC’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee last week, councillors quizzed healthcare chiefs on a proposed ‘remodelling’ of community services which could see beds at Ottery’s hospital close to inpatients.

Cost-saving measures being considered by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would see the ‘economically inefficient’ setup of beds at both Ottery and Honiton scrapped in favour of centralising them at one facility.

However, a ‘strategy document’ presented to the scrutiny committee on Monday (June 16) included no specifics on how much the proposals would save or exactly how individual hospitals will be affected.

Councillor Claire Wright, county representative for Ottery, asked whether the CCG had compared the cost of the existing setup to the proposed model.

“Obviously there is a significant financial difficulty, along with a lot of other NHS organisations at the moment,” she said. “My concern is this strategy document will be going before NHS England later this month without costings in or firm proposals.”

Rebecca Harriott, chief officer of the CCG, said that details on the costs, as well as specifics for individual hospitals, would be available towards the end of July.

She added: “As we sit here now, we haven’t got a paper that says how much it costs to do a set of models that we haven’t yet agreed will be our proposed way forward.”

But Councillor Brian Greenslade, DCC representative for North Devon, said: “I just don’t buy that. The aspirations set out - are they affordable or are they not?

“Unless you know the answer to that, why are you putting it forward?

“There must be at least a statement about the affordability of it, even if it’s not reams of figures.”

A consultation on the proposals is set to run until July 8.

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