Campaigners call on Devon candidates to sign pledge against health cuts

PUBLISHED: 15:34 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:20 28 April 2017

Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Ref shs 3262-50-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton.

Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Ref shs 3262-50-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton.

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Campaigners are calling on county council candidates to sign a pledge to oppose further cuts to health services across Devon.

Campaigners are calling on county council candidates to sign a pledge to oppose further cuts to health services across Devon.

The NHS Northern, Eastern and Western (NEW) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says health and social care services in the county are ‘likely’ to be £550million in deficit by 2020/21 if nothing changes in the way services are run.

Save Our Hospital Services (SOHS) claims a new model of ‘care at home’ – which led to the recent decision to close community beds in Honiton and Seaton’s hospitals – is unproven and will place a further strain on social care.

The pledge includes promises to fight for ‘adequate and fair’ funding for the NHS and social care in Devon, and to only support the ‘care at home’ model once it has been proved to deliver a level of care equal to better than currently exists.

Those who sign also say they want to see the decision to close inpatient beds reversed.

An SOHS spokesman said: “SOHS East Devon believes that the provision of health and social care should be a key issue in the forthcoming county council elections and that all candidates should demonstrate that, if elected, they will positively and proactively represent their constituents in health matters.

“In order to assess which candidates are willing to challenge the proposed cuts to local health and care services, we have sent a covering letter and a copy of the pledge by email or post to all East Devon candidates.

“We are asking them to sign the pledge to that effect and return it.

“Progress on signed pledges received will be posted on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/groups/SOHSeastdevon/.”

Justifying the bed closures, a NEW Devon CCG spokeswoman said a growing body of evidence shows that many people can be treated better in the community than in hospital and the NHS needs to refocus its resources.

The spokeswoman added that a claim that spending on health in Devon is ‘being cut by £550 million’ is incorrect. She said: “The situation is that health and social care services in Devon are under severe financial pressure, and are likely to be £550million in deficit by 2020/21 if nothing changes in the way we run our services. This is why it is essential that the NHS and local communities work together to identify how best to meet rising demand and secure safe and affordable services for the future.

“The budget for health and social care across Devon (including Plymouth and Torbay) is currently around £2.2billion a year – we are not aware of plans to cut this by the current government.”

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