‘People are frightened to get old due to NHS cuts’

Ottery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Angry Ottery residents told health bosses that people are ‘frightened to get old’ due to proposed reductions in community hospital beds.

Robert Sainsbury, chief operations officer for the NEW Devon Commissioning Group (CCG) spoke at Ottery Town Council this week about its ongoing consultation over the future of inpatient beds in East Devon.

The CCG is consulting on four options. Its preferred choice is to retain 32 beds in Tiverton, 24 in Seaton and 16 in Exmouth - shutting those elsewhere.

Mr Sainsbury said the CCG was looking to change from a ‘bed-based reliance’ to treat more patients out of hospital.

He said: “The GPs who make up the CCG have said they will not approve any changes or any reductions in our beds, and they are a reduction in beds, not closure of the community hospitals. They will not approve them if they do not feel the alternative services have been set up, the model of care is able to be fully implemented, and if it isn’t safe to do so.”

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Ottery St Mary Hospital lost its inpatient beds in July 2015, despite wide-spread objection.

Campaigner Philip Algar said: “You are promising now that no alternative system will be implemented until you are satisfied it works as satisfactorily and competently as the hospital. How would you reconcile that with Ottery Hospital’s inpatient beds, which were closed before any care in the community system was even considered?”

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Resident Angela Glanville, added: “I don’t actually feel it’s a valid consultation unless you have some independent evaluation of it. We do not trust the CCG to do it. I know a lot of people who are now frightened to get old because of the system you are proposing. I’m not saying that care at home is not good, but we need both, we don’t need either or.”

Dr Graham Ward, a retired Ottery GP, said the town’s hospital would be a prime site for the CCG due to its development opportunities and ‘marvellous’ access routes to Exeter, if it wanted to retain 24 inpatient beds in East Devon.

Dr Tim Cox, who has worked as a GP in Ottery for 30 years, raised concerns about provisions for patients who did not want to die at home. He said: “Where are these people going to go? The hospices tend to be full. Seaton is further away than Exeter, You are removing an amazing resource for a vital part of what we do.”

Mr Sainsbury said the CCG is looking at model to provide for end of life care.

The CCG’s consultation runs until January 6.

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