Intended cuts of £400million to Devon’s healthcare budget

“Service improvements and service changes.” Just look at the list!

Owl thinks readers of East Devon Watch might be interested in this communication from Torrington which contrasts the action taken by East Devon County Councillors Martin Shaw and Claire Wright with theirs. Then calls for action.

At the meeting of the Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care scrutiny committee that took place on 12th March, there was a proposal put forward by the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) to cut £400million from Devon’s health budget over the next 4 years, up until 2024. This follows cuts of £557 million that have been made in the previous 5 years which saw amongst other things the loss of 71% of Devon’s community hospital beds, and many acute beds, maternity, A&E services and staff.

In a presentation on 12th March from the Sustainability and Transformation Plan’s chief executive, Philippa Slinger,**

It was stated that to make the £400 million funding cuts, there were plans for the following:

  • A reduction in agency staff
  • More efficiency relating to the number of surgical procedures
  • Reducing hospital lengths of stay
  • Fewer admissions
  • Reducing overnight stays after surgery
  • Capping referrals
  • Trying to source less expensive pharmaceuticals
  • Reducing the cost of procurement, such as replacement hips
  • Reducing the number of outpatient appointments by between 60 and 70 per cent
  • Doing less work in the independent sector
  • Reducing overseas recruitment
  • Improving staff retention
  • E-consultations in primary care (GP surgeries)

There are also plans to reduce the number of hospital beds further.

Apparently, these cuts are now euphemistically being called “service improvements and service changes.”!

At this meeting Cllr. Claire Wright Independent councillor from Ottery St. Mary put forward a proposal to suspend the requirement for Devon’s NHS to make hundreds of millions of savings, until after the end of the Covid-19 outbreak.*

The motion was defeated by the Conservative majority on this scrutiny committee, at a time when Britain was, and is, going through the worst pandemic since the Black Death.

These cuts have not been reversed and are still pending, with every possibility there will be efforts to extend the scale of these cuts, in a coming recession, resulting in even further healthcare deprivation for the population of Devon.


An SOHS (Barnstaple) zoom meeting was held on Wednesday 24th June with the cuts as the key discussion topic. A follow up meeting is being held on Wednesday 1st June with the sole topic ‘Action to stop the cuts’. In my own town of Torrington STITCH*** supporters across our town are angry and perplexed that our own county councillor on the scrutiny committee Cllr. Andrew Saywell did not support Cllr. Wrights proposal, and was therefore not effectively representing the people of Torrington’s future health interests on this issue. We are putting pressure on him to do everything possible to challenge and oppose any healthcare cuts, and that he will report progress on this issue and his representation and voting, to Torrington Council and in the local  monthly newssheet the ‘Torrington Crier’. He has recently written ( 24th June), “Rest assured I will rigorously oppose any cuts to local services by the CCG should they announce any.” Which is great, except he doesn’t regard  £400million reduction as cuts. The usual Tory duplicity , smoke and mirrors.

Can you spread the word of the cuts to your contacts, and hopefully we can all get together in future on an SOHS zoom meeting to develop a cross-Devon campaign of coordinated action.

Yours in the forthcoming struggle,

From: john wardman <>

(STITCH) Save The Irreplaceable Torrington Community Hospital


**You can view Ms Slinger’s presentation and watch the debate from this link. It’s agenda item 7.

One thought on “Intended cuts of £400million to Devon’s healthcare budget

  1. Personally I should like to see, if she lacks the decency to resign, the removal of the disastrous Sara Randall Johnson from all health committees in Devon. This woman, so blinded by Tory dogma, bears a great responsibility for pushing through, against sincere and well-thought through opposition, moves that left us with far fewer community beds. It must be highly probable that such cuts led to unnecessary deaths following Covid with patients being discarded inappropriately.
    Covid has highlighted the problem but it existed even before we were struck down with it- as I saw in the case of a very elderly friend. We were promised emergency cover, a fast response team who would come in and take up any shortcomings that may arise. Such resources were inadequate; never mind the promises of six weeks of such cover free, my friend would have been left alone for 12 plus hours- at 100 years of age and immobile- if friends hadn’t stepped in (some disabled themselves) for the promised help just wasn’t available when required.
    We don’t need people driven solely by Tory dogma on health committees and never have.


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