Impassioned plea to save Sidmouth’s inpatient beds on eve of consultation deadline

Petition opposing bed cuts handed to CCG associate Jenny McNeill (second from right) by chairman of

Petition opposing bed cuts handed to CCG associate Jenny McNeill (second from right) by chairman of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund Graham Vincent (second from left) (with the fund's vice chairman Jeremy Roberts (far left) and vice president Frances Newth (far right) - Credit: Archant

Chair of hospital’s comforts fund implores health bosses not to ‘kill off voluntary sector’ and disregard £5million of community contributions

Petition opposing bed cuts handed to CCG associate Jenny McNeill (second from right) by chairman of

Petition opposing bed cuts handed to CCG associate Jenny McNeill (second from right) by chairman of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund Graham Vincent (second from left) (with the fund's vice chairman Jeremy Roberts (far left) and vice president Frances Newth (far right) - Credit: Archant

The chairman of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund has made an impassioned plea for health bosses to save ‘vital’ inpatient beds, writes Eleanor Pipe.

Graham Vincent handed over a petition signed by 6,600 people opposing the proposals on the eve of a consultation deadline. He appealed for decision-makers not to disregard the £5million that Sidmouth residents have contributed to their hospital.

Speaking at a public meeting last Thursday, Mr Vincent told the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body that there will always be a need for community beds.

Mr Vincent said: “We have got the support from the community in Sidmouth.


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“We have many concerns with the consultation document – it is not clear how your savings can be achieved. I understand that some patients recover more quickly in their homes, but we live in an area with the most elderly and dementia-ridden population in the country. Our Prime Minister said communities need to be more involved and not so reliant on the state. In a community that has contributed £5million to its hospital, we must be a good example. Be very careful not to kill off the voluntary sector which has been the backbone in much of what we have inherited.”

The CCG is now making the next step towards implementing changes that could see the number of inpatient beds in East Devon cut by 54 per cent.

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It says the move is needed to plug a predicted £384million deficit by 2020/21 and improve patient care.

The CCG’s director of strategy, Laura Nicholas, said: “This is the first step to setting out proposals for what we think we need to do. We are looking at moving on with the process in March if we can, but we cannot fully scope how much additional work needs to be done.”

She said the consultation had focused on the areas in East Devon where bed cuts would have the most impact, and acknowledged widespread concern about the loss of inpatient units and increased access times for remaining hospitals. Mrs Nicholas added that some well-thought-out alternative proposals had been put forward during the consultation that will need to be looked into.

The governing body reiterated the importance of public engagement and consultation and issued assurances that feedback given after the deadline will still be taken into consideration. It is now set to analyse feedback before undergoing another formal consultation and putting forward a business case.

Campaigner Councillor Cathy Gardner told the Herald: “I do have real concerns that the 6,600 people might think they have done all they can in this fight. Statements by senior members of the CCG suggest that these closures ‘cannot be stopped’. Plans have been laid down in Whitehall and Westminster; this is merely about implementation. I implore people to write to their GPs and any doctors involved with the CCG – ask them to resist these cuts. They are about money, not care. A bigger campaign is needed to fight the larger plan.”

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