NHS cuts “are more than about bed numbers”

“Call to keep fighting for East Devon’s hospital services

‘Cuts are about more than bed numbers’ – campaigners urge people to form united front

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Campaigners are appealing for people to keep fighting for community hospitals in East Devon as they warn further changes are imminent.

Proposals to cut inpatient bed numbers by 54 per cent across the region – a move that could see Sidmouth Victoria Hospital lose its entire unit – triggered a huge public backlash as thousands turned out and signed petitions to voice their opposition.

The consultation came to a close on January 6, and the fate of community hospital beds is now in the hands of the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body, which is expected to make a decision next month.

Campaigners are urging the public to mobilise on behalf of East Devon’s hospitals and challenge any further shake-ups as health bosses strive to plug a predicted £384million deficit by 2020/21.

Di Fuller, chair of the Sid Valley’s Patient Participation Group, said: “There is an apparent hiatus in the consultation and proposed changes to hospital services, but the planning and processes required for the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) continue under the radar.”

She added that many felt they had done what they could, but said with further consultations due, it was vital for people to keep informed and in a position to fight for their health services.

Chris East, a Sidmouth campaigner who set up an East Devon-wide petition and Facebook group, said: “We want to keep people involved and make them aware that there are things they can do.”

CCG bosses say their raft of proposed changes will benefit patients as they aim to move away from a hospital-reliant system of care to a more efficient, home-based model.

Sidmouth councillor and leader of the East Devon Alliance (EDA) Cathy Gardner argues a bigger campaign is needed to oppose Government-imposed cuts – that, she says, are about more than just bed numbers.

She is urging people to join a national mass protest against the ‘rapid dismantling of the NHS’ to be held in London on Saturday, March 4, and said EDA was organising a coach from the region with spaces available at modest cost.

To keep up-to-date with developments regarding the future of community hospitals, visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/1796549897279442/ or to book a coach space, email coach@eastdevonalliance.org.uk