Devon health watchdog councillor says bed figures are 'sketchy at best'

PUBLISHED: 16:02 25 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:45 26 October 2016

Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Ref shs 3264-50-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton.

Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Ref shs 3264-50-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton.

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Questions raised over case for cutting community hospital beds

Figures supporting proposals to cut community hospital beds are ‘sketchy at best’ and ‘misleading at worst’ – according to a member of Devon’s health watchdog.

County councillor Claire Wright believes she has uncovered evidence which sheds doubt on a claim by the NHS NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) ‘success regime’ that ‘a third of beds are not being used’.

Cllr Wright says this statement issued to Devon County Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee is at odds with figures detailed in a public health audit that shows occupancy in acute and community beds now averages 96 per cent.

The ‘success regime’ is putting forward proposals for a new model of home-based care in a bid to plug an expected £384million deficit by 2020/21 and says its proposals will be better for patients.

But Cllr Wright - a prominent hospital campaigner - argues the authority is basing its case on flawed evidence.

Cllr Wright said: “The information given to residents to help inform them of the reasons these proposals are being made, I believe, is sketchy at best. At worst, it is distinctly misleading.

“The success regime is relying partly on a public health audit published in October last year to argue its case for more bed cuts.

“The regime submitted a report to the health scrutiny committee last month that stated a third of beds in community hospitals are not used. When I enquired where this information came from, I was told that it came from the public health audit.

“I have studied the audit carefully and cannot find this statement anywhere.”

But she said the audit does refer to bed occupancy that for community and acute hospitals has increased to a 96 per cent average.

She also highlighted reasons given for delays in discharging people from hospital – with the most common being patients awaiting a community hospital placement or social care package.

A CCG spokesman responded to the claims and said: “These figures are not comparable. The first measures how much of the space available for beds within a community hospital is being used, while the second measures whether or not the beds themselves are occupied.

“Every day, there are 600 people in hospital beds in northern, eastern and western Devon who no longer have a medical need to be there.”

The report submitted to DCC’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee in September says: “In community hospitals there are people in a hospital bed who could be cared for at home, as well as more than a third of beds not being used at all.”

The consultation document can be viewed at www.newdevonccg.nhs.uk, as well as libraries, GP surgeries, hospitals and leisure centres.

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