Future of Sidmouth Hospital’s vital inpatient unit hangs in the balance

Protesters gather in Sidmouth outside public meeting to discuss proposed bed cuts

Protesters gather in Sidmouth outside public meeting to discuss proposed bed cuts - Credit: Archant

Hope that ‘common sense will prevail’ as health bosses set to consider bed cut proposals

Campaigners say the fight for NHS services is far from over as Sidmouth prepares to hear the fate of its vital inpatient unit.

Health bosses are set to consider plans to axe the number of community hospital beds in East Devon by 54 per cent on Thursday (March 2).

All of Sidmouth’s inpatient beds are under threat.

Graham Vincent, chairman of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund, expressed hope that ‘common sense will prevail’ as the future of the unit hangs in the balance. The people of Sidmouth have contributed £5million towards a complete refurbishment of the hosptial over 25 years.

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The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CGG) put forward proposals in a bid to plug an expected £384million deficit by 2020/21 and move towards a more home-based model of care. They have been met with widespread opposition that saw hundreds of people pack into public meetings and more than 6,600 sign a petitions to save the beds.

Mr Vincent said: “We in Sidmouth are very passionate about our hospital and hope common sense will prevail. The support over many years by the community, in building, maintaining and providing much equipment has been an inspiration, not only locally, but far beyond.

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“The response of local people to the consultation has been brilliant and has enabled us to put forward a very strong case to retain our inpatient beds.”

Campaigners in the town say these proposals are just the tip of the iceberg and are appealing for the public to fight for its health services in the face of further anticipated cuts.

Di Fuller, the Sid Valley’s Patient Participation Group chairman, said: “The decision is not whether they will, but which hospitals will lose their beds. If Sidmouth is fortunate to keep beds, other hospitals will lose theirs and as a result there will be more pressure on the remaining beds.

“Add to this an acute services review taking place across Devon and anyone can see that services will be under huge pressure.”

Campaigner and district councillor for Sidmouth Dr Cathy Gardner reiterated concerns and said ‘it is essential people keep protesting’. She warned ‘costs of administration have sky-rocketed and are draining money from front-line care’.

Dr Gardner is also the leader of the East Devon Alliance, which is organising a coach to a nationwide NHS rally in London on Saturday, March 4, to protest against the ‘dismantling of the NHS’. Anyone is invited to join. For details of pick-up points and how to book, see page 22.

The CCG’s governing body meeting – where the proposals are to be considered - is at 1pm on Thursday (March 2) at Exeter Racecourse and members of the public are welcome to attend.

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