United front to save all of East Devon’s hospital beds

Di Fuller. Ref shs 16-17TI 9448. Picture: Terry Ife

Di Fuller. Ref shs 16-17TI 9448. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth campaigners mobilise to fight ‘relentless sequence of cuts’

Independant Cathy Gardner. Ref shs 3699-09-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Independant Cathy Gardner. Ref shs 3699-09-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Campaigners are calling for co-ordinated efforts to stop a series of ‘fundamentally wrong’ NHS cuts they fear will adversely impact patient care.

Protesters in Sidmouth formed a united alliance with others across the region this week to fight proposals that include axing the town’s 24 inpatient hospital beds.

They argue the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) consultation is flawed and are calling on the public to challenge assumptions and battle to save all community beds that are under threat across East Devon.

A petition set up by campaigner Chris East to save inpatient hospital beds in East Devon gained 226 signatures on its launch day and people are also invited to turn out and show their opposition at upcoming public meetings.

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Campaigner Di Fuller, who is chairman of the Sid Valley Patient Participation Group, said: “This issue is huge and the proposals are fundamentally wrong. I wanted to find people who would be interested in a more overarching campaign.

“Everything in the plans will effectively impact Sidmouth, but we need to fight all of it.”

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The CCG is currently holding a 13-week consultation on plans to move towards a more home-based model of care – a move it says will benefit patients and help plug a predicted £384million NHS funding deficit by 2010/21.

Leader of the East Devon Alliance (EDA), Councillor Cathy Gardner, has joined forces with patient groups to fight for the cause of community hospitals. She said: “The most important thing is to write to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and MPs to get these cuts stopped – this is all down to chronic underfunding of health and social care in Devon.

“This whole thing looks like it’s going to decrease care and put people at risk. With so many cutbacks, the private sector is not coping and to cut more community beds just makes no sense. What we are trying to say is we should be fighting to save all of these beds. This situation needs to be looked at as a whole.”

Campaigners say this is just the beginning in the fight against the ‘relentless sequence of service reductions’ and they are encouraging people to turn out to the consultation events, give feedback, sign petitions and lobby their MPs.

Chairman of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund Graham Vincent urged people to attend the CCG consultation meetings to be held at Knowle on Monday, November 7, at 1pm to 3.30pm and 5.30pm to 8pm.

He said: “We need all the continued support we can get.”

Visit www.one-name.name/protect-east-devon-hospitals-campaign.html to view the new campaign website or sign the petition via: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-community-hospital-beds-in-east-devon.

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