Claims the criterion for bed cuts in eastern Devon is flawed

Cllr Stuart Hughes. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 3456-10-11AW

Cllr Stuart Hughes. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 3456-10-11AW - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth representatives fight for town’s inpatient beds

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

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

Claims that Sidmouth hosptial lacks accessibility for carers - being used as justification for potentially shutting its inpatient beds - have been challenged by the town’s county representative.

Councillor Stuart Hughes has questioned the criterion used by health bosses to determine proposals, under which the town stands to lose all of its inpatient beds.

He spoke out following a public meeting last week where the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) outlined its case for cutting 71 community hospital beds across the region.

Cllr Hughes said: “The consultation document makes it look as if Sidmouth is difficult to access, when, in fact, on the research I have done, it has by far the best geographical spread for access by public transport, which most carers actually take to visit their loved ones and family in hospital.”

He provided a list of more than 30 bus routes to and from Sidmouth that stop in All Saints Road - approximately 60 metres from the hospital - and pointed out that the facility also has ample parking.

Cllr Hughes added: “I have also raised concerns over the so-called rapid response. Has the CCG taken into consideration the very likelihood of more winter weather events involving snow and ice where it would be several days before home help could access many patients?”

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He questioned whether issues with flooding had been considered in the CCG’s plan to develop a more home-based care model and raised concerns about the chance of people in the town getting cut off.

Cllr Hughes said: “I believe that, for these issues alone, the Sidmouth beds should remain. As county councillor for Sidmouth, I am fighting on.”

Chairman of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund Graham Vincent agreed the criterion is flawed.

He said: “The access by bus is good. We have 51 spaces in the on-site car park, plus all the parking in May Terrace and All Saints Road, so we have an excess of 60 car parking spaces. The hospital is in the middle of the town and so easy to reach.

“Sidmouth should not be in the preferred option [for bed cuts].”

Mr Vincent also pointed out that Sidmouth hospital is unique in having a junior doctor on site four days-a-week.

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