Sidmouth to gain community hospital beds

PUBLISHED: 13:54 17 July 2015 | UPDATED: 15:25 17 July 2015

Save Our Hospitals- protesters at Newcourt Communtiy Centre this week. Ref sho 4589-29-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Save Our Hospitals- protesters at Newcourt Communtiy Centre this week. Ref sho 4589-29-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

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Sidmouth Victoria Hospital has gained six community beds under proposals agreed by health bosses yesterday (Thursday).

The decision was taken at NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body meeting, where voting members unanimously found in favour of the changes.

However Sidmouth stands to lose its recently refurbished minor injuries unit (MIU) under proposals that are to go before the urgent care board in the future.

Ottery St Mary Hospital is to lose its inpatient unit, but will retain 16 stroke rehabilitation beds on a temporary basis, while Axminster Hospital’s community beds are set to close.

The decision has met with fierce opposition from campaigners and members of the public, who fought to keep the hospital’s MIU open and retain community beds across the eastern locality sites.

More than 11,000 people signed petitions against the proposals.

It also goes against recommendations from an independent stakeholder group set up by the CCG, which provided an alternative solution, allowing for provision of community beds and retention of MIUs.

Approval of the proposals means the number of community hospital inpatient units in eastern Devon will reduce from 10 to seven, with Ottery, Axminster and Crediton all set to lose beds.

Sidmouth’s total number of beds will increase to 24.

Dr David Jenner, a GP and chair of the eastern locality CCG, said: “This will improve the resilience of care at our community hospitals in the face of financial and workforce challenges.

“We are looking to continually improve services to support people in their local communities whether they are cared for at home or in hospital and this is one step forward on that journey.

“We want to thank all the local people and organisations who have been involved throughout the development of the plans over the last couple of years.

“We held over 30 public meetings or drop-in sessions and have taken their comments into consideration when making our decision today.

“Of course we understand that some people will always want to have community beds in their own area and this decision may disappoint them but making sure everyone has the same level of access to services is very important.

“Over the last few years the hospital provider Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has had to temporarily close some community hospital inpatient units due to staffing issues. Consolidating from 10 to seven units means we will have much more robust staffing at our hospitals in the future.”

The process in which the proposals were agreed will now be considered at the Devon health and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting on September 14.

A timeline for implementing changes will depend on the outcomes and feedback from this meeting.

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