South Devon community hospitals bite the dust

“While Exeter and East Devon anxiously awaits the outcome of public consultation to close community hospital beds, residents of South Devon and Torbay are today coming to terms with the loss of five hospitals.

South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body today voted to switch resources from hospital bed-based care to community-based care which they say will improve health services and meet increasing demand.

Members agreed that by strengthening community-based services, more people will be looked after at home, so fewer people will need to be admitted and kept in hospital unnecessarily.

As a result, hospitals in Ashburton and Buckfastleigh, Bovey Tracey, Dartmouth and Paignton will close.

Members also agreed three additions to proposals first published last April:

Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Hospital will be evaluated as a base for the area’s local health and wellbeing centre, which would include GPs.

A proposal to establish an urgent care centre on the Torbay Hospital site to provide an MIU service to the Bay should be pursued.

Specialist outpatient clinics will continue in Paignton, where the volume of patients makes this a more appropriate option to travelling to Brixham, Totnes or Torbay.

Dr Nick Roberts, CCG chief clinical officer, said: “Evidence locally and nationally shows that supporting people in or near their own homes provides more effective outcomes for many patients, and this has to be one of our key priorities.

“Some £5.1m is being invested in health and wellbeing teams, which will bring together nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social care support to look after people closer to home.

“We believe that these changes will meet the demands of our modern society – but I want to stress that high-quality hospital care will still be available when needed for patients. That’s essential.”

The aim is for the changes to be implemented as soon as parameters are met to ensure that new services operate safely. The parameters include for example:

the remaining community hospital inpatient services meet the requirement for safe staffing standards for sub-acute bed-based care

Newton Abbot and Totnes MIUs to be open 8am-8pm 7 days a week, and that these MIUs to have radiology at least four hours a day, seven days a week
intermediate care (for patients who need care but don’t need a hospital) operating at least six days a week.

Thursday’s meeting came after a 12-week public consultation. Feedback from the consultation was independently collated by Healthwatch, and the resulting report provided an overview of common themes, comments and criticisms, as well as listing a range of suggestions made by the public.”