Councillors voice concerns over proposed East Devon in-patient bed provision within Your Future Care consultation

At a meeting on Thursday 24 November 2016, members of East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny committee listened to Rob Sainsbury, the Chief Operating Officer of the NHS North Eastern & Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG), give a talk about the NHS’s Your Future Care consultation.

Mr Sainsbury spoke about issues such as the financial pressure faced by the NHS,  the changing way in which people are cared for, proposed models of care and the number of community inpatient beds in East Devon. He outlined the options set out in the consultation and reassured the committee that no changes to services would be made until tests created by local clinicians had been undertaken to ensure the changes are safe and reliable.

Consultation options

  • Option A: Tiverton 32 beds, Seaton 24 beds, Exmouth 16 beds
  • Option B: Tiverton 32 beds, Sidmouth 24 beds, Exmouth 16 beds
  • Option C: Tiverton 32 beds, Seaton 24 beds, Exeter 16
  • Option D: Tiverton 32 beds, Sidmouth 24 beds, Exeter 16 beds

The CCG’s preferred option is A, as this combination is considered by the CCG to result in the smallest changes in travel time and to have the greatest impact on the whole system.

Prior to councillors questioning Mr Sainsbury and debating a number of issues, the Scrutiny Chairman Councillor Roger Giles reminded the committee of recent comments made by Neil Parish MP who asked that action be taken to: “Fight all closures across East Devon.” Cllr Giles expressed a hope that the committee would adopt a unified front rather than focus on arguments between the towns where community hospitals are located.

Following a wide range of questions from councillors, which Mr Sainsbury answered, councillors voted in favour of the following comments being sent in a response from the Scrutiny committee to the NEW Devon CCG Your Future Care consultation:

  1. Asks that the New Devon CCG presents an outline of how care delivery integrates health, social, and mental care, as well as physiotherapy, and how it is provided to patients
  2. Consider that the comparison with Northern and Western Devon areas is unfair as the demographics were not the same as Eastern Devon
  3. The committee considers that the models proposed in the consultation will not meet the needs of the District because of the local issues of social isolation, and the support that carers need
  4. The NEW Devon CCG should review the expenditure on management and administration as a means to realise savings that could be used to provide care rather than divert funding from in-patient beds
  5. The committee considers that the evidence presented to date by the NEW Devon CCG is not sufficient to convince them that the new model of care will be successful
  6. The Committee does not accept Options A – D, but recommends that the NEW Devon CCG should retain the current level of in-patient beds in community hospitals in the Eastern Devon locality
  7. Should a decision be made to close in-patients beds, the Committee insists that this is not undertaken until the replacement model of care is recognised as safe and in place; subject to the provision of evidence that the model of care has resulted in no bed blocking at acute hospitals, non occupancy of beds in community hospitals, and full care in the community

Commenting on the content and outcome of the meeting, Councillor Roger Giles said:

The Scrutiny Committee were very far from convinced about the practicality of the CCG proposals to close beds in East Devon community hospitals and replace them with care in the community. There was also concern about the accuracy of the CCG costings used to justify closure of hospital beds. The committee felt strongly that East Devon hospitals provided an excellent and essential local service and that the existing hospital beds should be retained.