Crucial meeting of County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 25th July
We are now preparing for the crucial meeting of Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 25th July. Following the meeting in June when they postponed a decision, this committee will now decide whether to use its power to refer the decision of the NEW Devon Clinical Commission Group (CCG) to close all in-patient beds in Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton hospitals to the Secretary of State for Health.
In March, the Committee sent 14 questions, from a resolution proposed by County Councillor Claire Wright, about the proposals to replace 72 of East Devon’s 144 community hospital beds by care at home. The questions included the justification for the surprise last-minute switch of beds from Seaton to Sidmouth, which left no beds at all in the Axe Valley, since Axminster has already lost its beds. Cllr Wright and other committee members are expected to examine the 14 points in detail to see which of them the CCG has answered satisfactorily.
Among those who will be speaking against the plans are Seaton Mayor, Jack Rowland, the Chair of EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Roger Giles, Steve Craddock and Bob Sturtivant from Honiton, and myself.
This is a crucial decision not only for the beds but also for the future of the hospitals. The CCG’s next step is its local estate strategy, which may involve partial or even complete closures of hospitals.
As in June, we will gather outside County Hall from 1 pm, and will then observe the meeting which starts at 2.15. A bus is being organised to take people to County Hall from Seaton and Colyford: anyone who would like to book a seat should contact Howard West (email@example.com or 01297 551375).
I look forward to seeing you at County Hall. In the meanwhile, please think about emailing the members of the Scrutiny Committee. We know from the feedback last time that they really noticed how many emails they were getting. The addresses are below.
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton
Chair of Planning, Seaton Town Council
SOHS and Healthwatch Devon update – July 2017
Calls to refer the decision to close hospital beds at Seaton and Honiton to the Health Minister have been put on hold. DCC Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee decided to defer such action while it investigates the Health Authority’s evidence for saying its ‘care at home’ policy will be better for residents.
Chris Carson for Midweek Herald wrote the following on Wednesday 28th June 2017:
“EDDC District councillors have called on health chiefs to retain all of East Devon’s inpatient hospital beds.
That was the message members of the scrutiny committee gave representatives of the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) when they attended their meeting last week. The committee had asked for assurances that packages of care for patients will be both adequate and in place before any bed closures commence.
Dr. Simon Kerr, Chairman of the Eastern Locality of the NEW Devon CCG, and John Finn, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Planned Care and Programmes, attending on behalf of Chief Operating Officer Rob Sainsbury, were robustly questioned on the value of their evidence, which was used in the decision made to close inpatient beds.
The committee also queried those actions of the health service, which appeared to be deliberately reducing patient referrals to hospitals indicated as losing beds once the new model of care implementation went ahead.
At the end of the debate, Dr. Kerr reiterated that current care levels would only get worse if no action was taken, and that no beds would be closed until implementation was confirmed as safe and in place to deploy.
The scrutiny committee agreed a series of resolutions including:
* To reiterate its strongly held view that the existing level of community hospital beds in East Devon should be retained.
* To express its great concern at the proposed drastically reduced level of hospital beds, particularly in view of general population growth projections, and projected increases in the population of elderly people.
* Its great concern that the NEW Devon CCG decision, if implemented, would result in no community hospital beds east of Sidmouth, leaving residents in a huge swathe of rural East Devon remote from the nearest hospital facility and with poor public transport connections to the nearest hospital.
* Its great concern that evidence of satisfactory replacement care services, and detailed financial costings, has not been provided by the CCG, despite being requested by Devon County Council in March and by EDDC in November.
* Its great concern that the NEW Devon CCG appears determined to press ahead with closure of beds and hospitals in East Devon, despite lack of evidence to justify closure and establishment of ‘care at home’ services.
The committee also agreed to write to urge Devon County Council to refer the NEW Devon CCG decision to the Secretary of State for Health, as a matter of urgency, because of a ‘lack of assurances or evidence of the practicality of the proposals’.”
***For regular updates on the proposed closure of hospital beds in East Devon go to:
Cllr. Martin Shaw’s website: www.seatonmatters.org
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CLOSURE OF BEDS AT HONITON HOSPITAL – Please note the following update from Councillor Martin Shaw:
On Wednesday 14th June 60 people packed Marshlands, Seaton, for a planning meeting before Monday 19th June’s crucial Health Scrutiny Committee at County Hall.
Plans to halve the numbers of community beds do not take into account that the numbers of older people in Devon will more than double in the next two decades.
- East Devon needs more beds than other areas because it has the oldest population in Devon and this will continue to grow.
- Community beds are crucial to older patients without transport and when they are distant many relatives will have huge difficulty visiting their loved ones.
- Savings from the closures will be small. Both financial logic and CCG planning suggest that the real agenda is to close a number of hospitals.
- The CCG’s consultation was flawed because it gave no option to keep Honiton’s beds, and the CCG ignored the stronger support for Seaton from people who responded.
- The CCG’s reasons for choosing Sidmouth over Seaton are based on misleading use of evidence about population and age distributions.
- The concentration of beds in Tiverton, Sidmouth and Exmouth will leave the eastern margins of East Devon entirely without. The CCG’s claim that this is ‘a more even geographic spread’ is entirely false.
- The CCG ignored the fact that Seaton also serves the Axminster area, and has reneged on the commitment it gave when it recently closed Axminster Hospital’s beds, that beds would continue to be available in Seaton.
- Communities in the Seaton, Axminster and Honiton are angry about the decision and expect the Health Scrutiny Committee to refer it to the Secretary of State.
SOHS – Judicial Review Over! – June 2017 update
(Pulman’s View from Honiton & Ottery St. Mary, Tuesday 6th June 2017)
“Honiton’s Save Our Hospital Services steering group will no longer be pursuing a judicial review into the closure of inpatient beds at the town’s community hospital.
The steering group recently sent a pre-action letter to the NEW Devon CCG about four possible grounds for a judicial review.
The CCG response provided some additional information but not as much as was needed to determine if the grounds for the judicial review were sufficiently evidenced – there needs to be compelling evidence to get a judge to grant an application for such a review.
The Royal College of Nurses (RCN) have also been working on a bid for a judicial review regarding the impact of the closure of the medical beds on the maternity ward.
A spokesperson for the Save Our Hospital Services steering group said:
‘There was discussion around whether we would proceed with a formal application for a judicial review independently or in conjunction with the RCN, however we would have needed more information from the CCG to evidence our grounds for challenge.
We were running out of time because of the tight deadlines for judicial reviews and it would also have required substantially more funds than we had been able to raise.
Our legal team (lawyers, barrister and Queen’s Counsel) strongly advised us that it might be better to pursue our fight through the Devon County Council Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, since that would also enable other people to make petitions. Taking all these aspects into account we concluded that since we had already incurred substantial costs it was prudent to follow the advice of our legal counsel.’
The steering group said that they will be holding a public meeting later this month to explain to everyone the next steps that are needed to be taken as a community.”
On 26th May 2017 the following information, regarding closure of beds at Seaton Hospital, was posted on www.seatonmatters.org by county councillor Martin Shaw:
On Monday 19th June 2017 at 2.15pm at County Hall Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee will consider their response to NEW Devon CCG’s closure decision, in the light of the CCG’s reply to the 14 questions the Scrutiny Committee asked them. The correspondence should be made public in the papers for the meeting, which will be available on-line approximately one week beforehand.
The Committee has the legal power to refer the CCG’s decision to the Secretary of State for Health, and their resolution passed on 7th March proposed to make a referral unless the questions were answered to the Committee’s satisfaction. This is therefore our main opportunity to make the CCG change the decision to remove beds from Seaton.
I shall be writing to the Committee about the decision as it affects Seaton, and I intend to speak at the meeting. It is also open to members of the public to speak, and I believe it would be in our interests to have a strong presence from the Seaton and Axminster area, both in the meeting and possibly in the form of a protest outside.
The rules about public speaking are here: https://new.devon.gov.uk/democracy/committee-meetings/scrutiny-committees/
Where you will also find a link to the Health Scrutiny Committee (confusingly, it has changed its name from ‘Health and Wellbeing’ to ‘Health and Adult Care’).
I have organised an open campaign meeting on Wednesday 14th June at 7.00pm in Marshlands, Harbour Road, Seaton, to discuss preparation for the Scrutiny meeting.
I hope as many people as possible from all over the area will come. This will also be an opportunity for a general discussion on the future of the campaign.
NB. The correspondence referred to above has now been published (see below):
As you know, on Monday 19 June (County Hall, Exeter, 2.15) the Devon County Council Health Scrutiny Committee will discuss whether to refer the CCG’s proposals to cut East Devon community hospital beds to the new Secretary of State.
The papers are now online at http://democracy.devon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=2581&x=1. They include the CCG’s reply to the Committee, hitherto confidential, which is still unacceptable. Let’s make sure the Committee knows we want them to exercise their power of referral!
People from Seaton and Honiton will be speaking in the Public Participation part of the meeting, and I will be speaking as divisional county councillor.
We are meeting on Wednesday 14th June at 7 pm in Marshlands, Harbour Rd, Seaton, to plan a protest outside the meeting as well as a strong presence inside it. Please come along if you can! But there will be a further email after Wednesday to let everyone know what’s happening.
This is the email list of the members of the committee, in case you want to write to any/all of them:
On Saturday, 1st April, ‘Red Line’ protests against hospital cuts took place across East Devon. In Honiton more than 350 people marched from the town to Honiton Hospital in Marlpits Road, as Neil Parish MP, East Devon District Leader, Cllr Paul Diviani and town mayor Cllr Caroline Kolek made presentations to the nurses at the hospital for all their hard work.
Following the presentation district councillor Mike Allen told the crowd that NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group had made a ‘callous decision knowing that social care cannot look after our sick people at home’.
Heather Penwarden, Chair of Honiton Hospital League of Friends, thanked everyone for their support and revealed that they had so far received £25,000 towards the Judicial Review in just one week. In an extraordinarily generous gesture Otter Nurseries has backed Save Our Hospital Services Honiton by contributing £10,000 towards the costs of a Judicial Review. Jacqui Taylor, MD of Otter Garden Centres said:
“As a local family business, we are very much a part of the East Devon and wider community and we feel very strongly about this. We have donated £10,000 to give this campaign a fighting chance.
Everyone knows Honiton is an excellent hospital. This doesn’t just affect Honiton people – if you live in Ottery Honiton is your nearest hospital now. As far as we can see there are no figures to substantiate the decision, and nothing to show how people will be looked after at home once the beds have gone.
It would be great to see everyone in the local community chip in to help challenge this decision. Even if it is just a pound or two, every contribution will help.”
SOHSHoniton will need in the region of £75,000 to cover judicial review legal costs.
To donate, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/honitonhospitalbeds
Alternatively, you can write a cheque to Honiton Hospital Friends and deliver it to the Hospital addressed to The Treasurer, Honiton Hospital League of Friends. Please attach a clear note saying it is for the Judicial Review.
At the Seaton ‘Red Line’ protest local GP, Dr. Mark Welland, told the crowd:
“The CCG is making a massive mistake, they haven’t listened. Let the CCG prove they have a better service in place before they close a single bed. I don’t think they will be able to do that.’
Seaton Town Council has unanimously decided to seek legal advice over the CCG’s decision to remove Seaton Hospital’s beds.
For regular updates on Save Our Hospital Services news, and Honiton Hospital Judicial Review funding go to the following websites:
This website gives an analysis of the CCG ‘business case’ for closure of beds at Seaton Hospital and regularly updates on the SOHS campaign.
Local on-line news – go to Honiton Hospital Judicial Review for the latest
This website will regularly update the latest campaign news on Honiton Hospital’s Judicial Review funding
The Honiton Dementia Action Alliance website includes a letter from the League of Friends to Angela Pedder on the ‘Your Future Care’ consultation. The League took expert advice from and worked closely with Dr.Helen Tucker of the Community Hospitals Association to: “…facilitate her document – ‘Community Hospitals Association Response to the NEW Devon CCG Consultation Document Your Future Care January 2017’.”
Covers North Devon Hospital closures