GP defends plans to cut hospital beds across eastern Devon

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

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

‘Getting healthcare changes wrong will inevitably cost system a lot more’

A GP involved with proposals to cut community hospital beds has outlined a need for changes to healthcare provision - but admitted that getting it wrong would be ‘disastrous’, writes Eleanor Pipe.

Dr Richard Mejzner argued that the current system is ‘failing elderly and frail patients’ as he set out a case for a move towards a new home-based model of care.

The preferred option set out by the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would see Sidmouth lose its 24 inpatient beds.

Dr Mejzner, a Budleigh Salterton-based GP and CCG board member, said he shares people’s concerns about the impact of cutting inpatient beds and maintained he would not want to see numbers reduced until the right provision is in place.

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Speaking on behalf of the CCG, he told the Herald: “I look after a lot of elderly and frail patients and I suppose the issue for me is that we know for certain that my patients go into hospital because we just do not have the right services in the community.

“There is a lot of proof that patients who do not need an acute hospital will do a lot better in their own environment.

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“There is a big feeling that we are letting elderly and frail people down and we have got to aspire to get these services right so people are only in hospital when they really need to be.

“I share the concern that there won’t be enough provision in the community - that would be my number one concern. We can only reduce beds when we see corresponding change in the community. The timescale will centre on getting the services in place.

“I understand the huge financial pressures within the system, but it’s not in anybody’s interest to do it badly. Getting it wrong will inevitably cost the system a lot more. Moving our services in that direction is the right thing to do and trying to make sure we get the capacity right is very important. It will be a disaster if we do not.”

Dr Mejzner admitted there will always be people who require non-acute hospital care, but argued this could be provided in remaining community hospital beds, or with private sector contracts in nursing and residential homes.

He stressed the importance of responding to the public consultation to inform decision-making and raise issues that might have not been previously considered.

The GP added that if respondents do not agree with any of the four options presented – which each propose bed cuts – it is important that they state why the proposals are wrong in order to help health bosses determine the main concerns and issues.

The Herald has joined with Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund in the fight to save the town’s inpatient beds and is urging people to tell CCG bosses why Sidmouth’s hospital beds are worth saving.

Sid Valley Practice partners, hospital staff, patient representatives and MP Sir Hugo Swire have all voiced grave concerns over the proposals amid fears they will impact healthcare provision in the town,

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