Fight to save all of Sidmouth’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

‘Bombshell’ plans have been revealed that could see Sidmouth lose all of its inpatient hospital beds by April next year.

NHS NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) this week unveiled a consultation document featuring four options for the future of services in the region – two of which would mean Sidmouth Victoria Hospital retains 24 beds.

But the preferred move would see the town left with none and the provision spread between Tiverton, Seaton and Exmouth.

Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund bosses told the Herald yesterday that they will put forward a ‘very strong case’ to keep the facilities – and point out that the community has raised £5million for the hospital over the last 25 years.

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire said he will fight ‘tooth and nail’ to retain beds in Sidmouth.

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The CCG’s consultation document – entitled Your Future Care – sets out proposals to ‘improve your future care in NEW [Northern, Eastern and Western] Devon by providing more care in people’s homes and avoiding hospital admissions where possible’.

It reads: “We need to shift our resources and focus from hospital beds to the care surrounding our patients in their own homes. This consultation is about how we decide the location of fewer community hospital inpatient beds in Eastern Devon whilst giving people the reassurance as to the improved care they can expect instead in their homes.”

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More than 80 professionals from across our health and social care system have worked on the proposals.

The options up for debate are:

A) 32 beds in Tiverton, 24 beds in Seaton and 16 beds in Exmouth.

B) 32 beds in Tiverton, 24 beds in Sidmouth and 16 beds in Exmouth.

C) 32 beds in Tiverton, 24 beds in Seaton and 16 beds in Whipton.

D) 32 beds in Tiverton, 24 in Sidmouth and 16 beds in Whipton.

The cuts are intended to help plug a £384million deficit by 2020/21.

The CCG’s Dr David Jenner said the new model of care could be implemented as early as April. Its governing body will consider the proposals on Wednesday (September 28), when a decision will then be made on whether to begin a public consultation. If agreed, the consultation will begin on October 7 and last for a minimum period of three months.

County councillor Stuart Hughes described the proposals as a ‘bombshell’ and said of Option A: “If it were adopted, it would be disastrous for Sidmouth. I would urge everyone to get behind our hard-working Sidmouth comforts fund when the consultation commences on October 7 and make their views known. We have a community hospital here that is second-to-none and, while we understand that the CCG has financial problems and has looked at alternative ways of working, our hospital beds should remain.”

Graham Vincent, chairman of the Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund, described the news as ‘very alarming’. But he called for calm and told the Herald: “These are only proposals and nothing is set in stone. Fourteen months ago at an eastern locality board meeting it was decided to allow Sidmouth hospital to have an increase in inpatient beds from 16 to 24.

“This resulted from a consultation period lasting over eight months. Myself and other trustees will be attending the governing body meeting on Wednesday. On Thursday, we will be meeting with the CCG’s directors to inform them – once again – of the massive input of finance by the local community over the last 25 years in rebuilding the interior of Sidmouth hospital at a cost of around £5million.

“You can be assured that we will be presenting a very strong case to keep the hard-earned facilities and staff at Sidmouth hospital.”

Sir Hugo said Option B makes ‘geographical sense’, adding: “I will be fighting tooth and nail in an effort to get this particular proposal adopted.

“I would encourage all of my constituents to take part in this consultation and support me in campaigning for Option B.”

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