Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary representatives claim there is a lack of trust in wake of hospital beds cost discrepancy

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

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

Call for more transparency and community engagement

Health bosses have been warned that a lack of trust and transparency continues to hang over the future of hospitals in Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary.

The NHS Success Regime - tasked with determining the model of care provision – has been called to account in the wake of cancelled public meetings and discrepancies in published figures over hospital beds.

Representatives from the region’s health and care forums (HCF) have said better community engagement is needed. They have also questioned how decisions are being reached after one document stated the daily cost of a community bed in East Devon was £750, and another at £313. The correct figure for the average cost of an occupied community hospital bed in East Devon is £289.

Chief executive of the Success Regime Angela Pedder has apologised for the error, but reiterated that the status quo does not ensure the best outcomes for patients.

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In letters sent to Ms Pedder on behalf of the region’s HCF, Ottery town councillor Elli Pang said: “A lack of trust and transparency continues. We can agree with you that our objectives are also to maximise best outcomes for patients. We would, however, challenge that your actions will achieve that in the short-term if you follow rigidly the idea of community bed removal.”

Speaking at an Ottery Town Council meeting on Monday, she revealed that an event on the future of the town’s hospital had been cancelled and expressed fears that the outcome of a future consultation has been predetermined.

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Chairman of Sidmouth’s HCF Di Fuller told the Herald that further community bed closures had already been mentioned by the Success regime at a recent meeting. She added: “It feels like they have already made the decision again.

“If community beds are the same price as acute beds, why would we get rid of them if it helps keep people out of acute beds? It does not seem to me that they have thought long and hard enough about how community beds can be used effectively within community care.”

In a letter to Cllr Pang, Ms Pedder said: “We are operating a model where too many people are either admitted to, or delayed, leaving hospitals and this over-hospitalisation risks an increase in harm or poor outcomes, at the same time as being poor value for money. We will use the best available data to ensure that appropriate decisions are taken.”

She added that costs per occupied bed will vary due to a number of factors and reiterated a commitment to public consultation and keeping people informed.

A spokesman for the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group said the public meeting in Ottery would be better timed once the Success Regime’s consultation plans were clear so any potential changes could be discussed.

The Success Regime consultation will launch later in the summer and details of the proposals will be published in due course.

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