GPs' 'grave concern' over threat to Sidmouth's inpatient beds

PUBLISHED: 06:40 10 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:56 14 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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'Disastrous proposals would leave large void in patient care'

GPs have warned that closing Sidmouth’s inpatient hospital beds would leave a ‘large void’ in patient care - and ultimately cost the NHS more.

Sid Valley Practice partners this week outlined a raft of concerns, saying ‘disastrous’ proposals put forward by the NHS NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would mean the loss of a ‘vital resource’ in the town.

The CCG has four options on the table - two of them, including the preferred choice, would see Sidmouth Victoria Hospital lose all of its 24 inpatient beds.

A 12-week consultation launches today (Friday) on proposals that are part of a wider regime of cuts outlined in healthcare transformation plans.

Dr Andrew Rosewarne – one of the Sid Valley Practice partners - told the Herald: “It would be a disaster for our ability to care for patients close to their home. We feel that the loss of community hospital beds would leave a major gap in our local health services.”

The ‘gravely concerned’ GPs express their opposition to proposals in a letter - to the CCG’s chief officer Rebecca Harriott – that is signed by all 12 practice partners.

The doctors argue that there will always be a need for a community hospital in Sidmouth. They say a likely consequence of closing community hospital beds will be an increase in the number of acute admissions to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E) and longer stays, which would ultimately cost the NHS more.

Health bosses say the new model of care is ‘better for patients’ and will help the CCG plug a potential £384million deficit by 2020/21.

Grieving widower Nigel Burge, 69, has made an emotional case for the ‘vital’ role of community hospitals after the death of his wife, Kerstin. The Arcot Park resident and retired publican said: “Kerstin died peacefully on July 4, in Sidmouth hospital holding hands with her children. We had been married for 48 years. I was allowed to spend our last night together in the next bed. It seems just criminal to remove such an amazing facility. Kerstin did not want to die at home - she wanted the security of Sidmouth hospital. What are they going to do? Take everybody to the RD&E and bed block or confine them to home and put more strain on ambulance services?”

Di Fuller, chairman of the Sid Valley’s patient participation group, said: “The CCG argues that the patient is at the centre of their plan and that is definitely not the case. People who are very frail, patients who will not get better and those who are terminally ill will not be served by these plans – for these people we need our community beds.”

She argued the case for care in the community is flawed and said the resources and systems are not in place to support this.

A CCG spokeswoman said: “At the heart of the plans is the goal of establishing a better way of caring for elderly and frail members of our communities, who - too often - are in hospital when there is no medical need for them to be there.

“It is well evidenced that people prefer to be in familiar surroundings and they get better more quickly and fully at home than extended stays in hospital.

“We need fewer inpatient beds in our community hospitals and more care being delivered in people’s homes. The consultation is to decide how best we can introduce this new model of care and where the remaining beds will be.”

She urged as many people as possible to respond to the consultation and said there will be a series of roadshow events and public meetings.

The CCG has promised information will be delivered to every home in eastern Devon. Documents can be accessed at www.newdevonccg.nhs.uk and at public information centres, such as libraries, council offices and leisure centres.

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