District councillor’s fears over hospital ownership transfer

NHS Devon says councillor has “misunderstood” community hospital transfer situation

Fears over the transfer of ownership and management of Devon’s community hospitals, were raised in a letter to Jayne Carroll, strategic commissioning business support manager of NHS Devon, by Councillor Jill Elson after a debate at East Devon District Council’s communities overview and scrutiny committee.

Miss Elson expressed alarm that the council had not been made aware of discussions and wrote: “The ownership and management of community hospitals is a matter of passionate interest for local communities in this rural area.

“Not only is this a community and democratic matter, but one of great concern to GPs who are expected to be commissioning most health services in the future.”

She said EDDC wanted to be party to any decision on the future of community hospitals and felt local authorities should be given time to get involved.

Ms Carroll said Miss Elson had misunderstood, saying: “National policy requires PCTs to transfer community staff and services to an alternative organisation by April 1, 2011. We need to be clear that this does not include the transfer of any community hospitals or NHS estate.

“NHS Devon is currently discussing the options for the future management of community services with our community staff and local GPs.”

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She said other stakeholders, such as district councils, would be kept informed as plans develop.

A spokesman for NHS Devon said one option would be the setting up of social enterprises, but detailed consideration had not yet been given to tis for larger areas of service in Devon.

Staff have attended a series of events to discuss these options and the board will consider final recommendations at the end of September.