“Devon County conservatives [including Paul Diviani] vote down chance of deferring hospital bed closures”

“Six conservative councillors voted down my proposal to defer a rushed decision to close the remaining half of community hospital beds in Eastern Devon.

The proposal was made at last Thursday’s (19 January) Devon County Council health and wellbeing scrutiny committee following a presentation from four members of NEW Devon clinical commissioning group (CCG), which revealed that many more than 3,000 responses were received to their consultation to close 72 beds.

The six conservatives include Cllr Paul Diviani, who is the councillor for Honiton, where the hospital beds are set to be lost as part of the decision.

Yet most of those same councillors voted IN FAVOUR of a motion calling for a pause to the controversial beds cuts and service centralisation document, the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) at the full council meeting in December.

And half of the scrutiny councillors also voted in favour of a raft of actions against the STP in the morning scrutiny session!

NEW Devon CCG is set to make its decision on closing 72 beds in Eastern Devon, on 2 March at its governing body meeting, yet it has received what is says are well over 3,000 technical and heartfelt responses.

Managers are ploughing their way through them, yet this many detailed responses will require a significant amount of work to read, digest and potentially respond to the issues and questions set out in them.

I said that there may need to be further discussions with communities about the issues raised. And according to a consultation response by Hospiscare that I have seen, there is a massive problem with regular breakdowns in social care packages for people who want to die at home.

Last year alone, Hospiscare reported 58 incidents to the CCG where the breakdown of social care packages for people at end of life had caused distress. This is completely appalling, and surely must be the tip of the iceberg.

Hospiscare specifically ask the CCG in their response for an assurance that in-patient care will still be available for dying patients who cannot be managed at home because of complexity or carer breakdown or because they choose not to die at home.

Will they get that assurance? I doubt it.

I also raised the issue of six incorrect postcodes that were published initially with the consultation. This meant that some hospitals were judged as being not as far away from other hospitals than they actually were. The postcodes issue was later rectified but that did not alter the fact that the bed closure recommendations had been based on the incorrect information.

I asked about a detailed impact analysis of the bed closures at Ottery, Axminster and Crediton Hospitals and the reply was that although one hadn’t been undertaken, there is a running analysis in terms of an in-house reporting system. I asked for a copy of this….

I made a proposal to defer the decision to shut the beds in Eastern Devon until the summer (after the elections as decisions cannot be made during purdah). The result was four votes to six against.

I am not quite sure why the six conservatives voted against my inoffensive proposal but given the seriousness of the plans and widespread and significant level of concern in communities… and the councillors’ voting record … I am really angry that they seem to be playing games with such a serious issue.

Councillors are elected to support local communities and act on issues of concern. If we aren’t doing that, what are we there for?”

Here’s the webcast. It is item 7 – Your Future Care: