Devon’s ‘devastating’ hospital cuts to be scrutinised

Councillor Claire Wright protesting for Ottery Hospital. Ref sho 4601-29-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Councillor Claire Wright protesting for Ottery Hospital. Ref sho 4601-29-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Plans to cut nearly 200 community hospital beds across Devon by 2020/21 will come under the scrutiny of county council health bosses on Monday (September 19).

Councillor Claire Wright (pictured) described the proposals in a leaked document as ‘devastating’ and said the underfunding of the NHS should not mean that patients suffer.

More than 400 acute hospital beds in the county – one in six – could close, as the NHS in Devon looks to plug a predicted funding gap of £572million by 2020/21.

The leaked Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Wider Devon states: “The changes we are proposing will result in a reduction in the number of acute and community beds across our system of the order of 590 by 2021.

“NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are developing consultation proposals on the overall strategic direction of travel and provision changes, the components of new models of care and specific intentions to close a number of community hospital beds.”

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NHS bosses were approached for comment, but would not specify how the cuts would affect different localities.

Cllr Wright said: “My understanding is that the document was submitted to NHS England for its consideration in June.

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“That’s three months ago – why on earth it has been kept so secret from residents, and councillors including those like me on the health and wellbeing scrutiny committee?

“As an Ottery St Mary councillor, I am very worried indeed now for Ottery Hospital’s future – and the impact that so many acute and community bed closures in general will have on patient care all over the county.

“The fact that the NHS is massively underfunded should not mean that patients have to suffer.”

A statement issued by NEW Devon CCG says more analysis and consideration was to be undertaken before a further submission is made in October.

It said: “The STP creates the opportunity for health and local authorities to work together and formulate plans to improve and secure the sustainability of services we deliver to people across Devon.

“The programme of work to review acute and specialised service across Devon will commence in October.”

A report on the STP will be given to Devon County Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee on Monday.

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