Thank goodness for (truly) independent councillors!
Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee will ask both the NEW Devon and South Devon & Torbay Clinical Commissioning Groups, which commission services in community hospitals, and NHS Property Services, which now owns the hospitals, to its next meeting on 25 January to report on the future of the hospitals now that most of them have lost their in-patient beds.
The Scrutiny Committee decided to request the discussion at its meeting yesterday (21st) after concerns were raised by Cllr Martin Shaw, who represents Seaton and areas close to Honiton, both places where hospital beds closed this summer. Cllr Shaw is pressing for the contributions to community hospitals made by local communities and Leagues of Friends to be taken into account in planning their futures, and had presented a paper on the subject to the Committee’s September meeting.
Cllr Shaw raised particular concerns over the high rents to be charged by NHS Property Services, the fact that the CCG is committed to paying for space only until the end of the current financial year, and that the CCG has specifically said that existing outpatient services are not guaranteed to continue.
‘Many services can be delivered in community hospitals’, Cllr Shaw emphasised after the meeting. “We should be talking about increasing not reducing the provision close to where patients live. If most services are concentrated in the RD&E, patients will continue to face long journeys into Exeter. With deteriorating public transport many will have to drive in and contribute to the city’s ever-growing congestion. We need joined-up planning at Devon and local levels to make the best use of the hospitals, which are community assets whoever is the legal owner.’
The motion to invite the NHS organisations was proposed by Cllr Claire Wright (Independent) and seconded by Cllr Nick Way (Liberal Democrat).
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton”