Do not shut hospital beds – closures not evidence-based says influential King’s Fund – too late for East Devon

Independent DCC Councillor Claire Wright – RIGHT
Independent DCC East Devon Alliance Councillor Martin Shaw – RIGHT
All Independent Councillors at EDDC – RIGHT
All Tories at DCC – Wrong
All those Tories (DCC and EDDC) who voted to support Diviani and Randall-Johnson in closing community hospital beds – WRONG

ALL the time the Independents have called for REAL evidence about bed closures.
ALL the time DCC Tories have acceptec waffle and jargon and “death by Powerpoint” instead of REAL evidence
EDDC Tories sort-of got it right and then allowed their Leader to vote WRONG so they still got it WRONG!

Why on earth are people still voting for these useless excuses for Tory representative councillors!

Kill beds, no community alternative = kills US!

“NHS bosses have been urged to halt plans for more ward closures as experts warn that hospitals do not have enough beds to accommodate patients.

Britain has fewer hospital beds per person than almost any other rich country and numbers in the NHS have fallen to 142,000 from the 299,999 that were available 30 years ago, according to an analysis by the King’s Fund health think tank.

Thousands of further cuts are being planned as part of a strategy by Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, to improve out-of-hospital care and make £22 billion in efficiency savings.

The King’s Fund said that this plan was unrealistic at a time when wards are more than 95 per cent full, well above the 85 per cent level generally thought to be safe. Hospital bosses in London are hoping to cut hundreds of beds, but the King’s Fund estimates that the city will need 1,600 more by 2021 to keep up with population growth.

Helen McKenna, a senior policy adviser at the think tank, said: “There are opportunities to make better use of existing beds and initiatives to capitalise on these should continue, but with many hospitals already stretched to breaking point, reductions on the scale proposed in some areas are neither desirable not achievable.”

Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, said: “Serious questions need to be asked about whether these plans are realistic and evidence-based given it defies logic to cut bed numbers when we already don’t have enough.”

Mr Stevens said that he would only allow bed closures where NHS bosses could demonstrate local alternative treatments were being put in place first or where hospitals were remedying inefficiencies. The King’s Fund said that these tests lacked any real detail.

Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, said: “One of the key lessons from last winter was the importance of avoiding unsafe levels of bed occupancy.”

Mr Stevens agreed that hospitals would need to free more beds during the winter, promising an extra 3,700 would be opened for the busiest time of year as hospitals were told to prevent “bed-blocking” by elderly patients.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw asks council to scrutinise ownership and governance of community hospitals

PRESS RELEASE from DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (Seaton and Colyton):

Tomorrow I am asking the committee to consider a proposal on ‘Ownership, Community Stakeholding and the Governance of Community Hospitals’, the briefing note for which is copied below and is self-explanatory:

Ownership, Community Stakeholding and the Governance of Community Hospitals

Community hospitals in Devon have always been built and maintained with a high degree of community involvement and support. In many cases, local communities took the initiative to build the hospitals and raised a substantial part of the original funding, or even the entire funding of additional wings and facilities, as well as contributing to staff and other running costs, the introduction of new specialist services, etc.

Unlike Private Finance Initiatives undertaken in partnership with private companies, these ‘community finance initiatives’ – which sought no profit from their investments other than the improvement of the facilities and services they enabled – appear not to have secured their interests in the hospitals they helped to build. The Leagues of Friends and others who raised funds for hospitals trusted that their investments would continue to be used for the benefit of place-based health services in their local area.

Since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, however, the organisation of the NHS has changed and the ownership of NHS buildings is in the process of being transferred to a new company, NHS Property Services, wholly owned by the Secretary of State and charged with managing the NHS estate in line with national priorities. NHS Property Services is enabled to sell off parts of the estate and to charge NHS organisations market rents for their use of NHS buildings.

This change creates dilemmas for local communities which have invested in Devon community hospitals. Clearly Leagues of Friends and other local bodies, including town and parish councils as representatives of communities which have raised large amounts of funding, can be considered ‘stakeholders’ in community hospitals. However these community stakeholders appear not to possess formal rights in the ownership and governance of the hospitals.

The proposal is that the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny undertake an investigation into

1. The changing ownership and governance of community hospitals in Devon and its implications.
2. The historic and ongoing contributions of local communities and Leagues of Friends to funding the hospitals.
The purpose of this investigation would be to address the question of
3. How community stakeholders’ interests should be secured in the future governance of community hospitals.

It is envisaged that in the course of this investigation, the Committee would both collect evidence and invite expressions of views from all stakeholders, including both local community organisations and NHS bodies, including NHS Property Services.

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton”

Independent councillor challenges Councillor Mike Allen’s letter on Tories and NHS

Independent East Devon Alliance councillor Martin Shaw (Seaton and Colyton) makes this observation on EDDC Tory councillor Mike Allen’s attempt to distance other EDDC and DCC councillors from Leader Diviani’s actions which led to the vote of no confidence meeting at EDDC tonight.

(Assemble Knowle 5.30 pm if you wish to make your presence felt for this meeting)

“It is not credible to say that Diviani acted alone – he may not have consulted other district councils, but remember that three of the East Devon Tories on Health Scrutiny (Randall Johnson and Richard Scott as well as Diviani) voted for ditching the hospital beds, with only Twiss against and Jeff Trail absent. Even at the time of the County Council elections in May, E Devon Conservatives advocated ‘bedless hospitals’, so Mike Allen’s story doesn’t add up. If they back Diviani tonight they will be consistent with their party’s betrayal of Honiton and Seaton.”

Letter referred to in post below and above:

Councillor calls for Randall-Johnson resignation


Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Chair, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, should immediately consider her position following the stinging rebuke issued to her by the Council’s Standards Committee. The Council should also act to restore the credibility of Health Scrutiny, since its failure to fully scrutinise the removal community hospital beds in Honiton, Okehampton and Seaton has destroyed public confidence in its activities across a large swathe of Devon.

At its meeting on 29 August, minutes of which are published today, the Standards Committee agreed that while Cllr Randall Johnson had not broken the Members’ Code of Conduct, she should ‘be strongly reminded of the importance of the work of scrutiny committees – reinforcing the value of neutrality in scrutiny both generally and in calling the “health service” to account – and the need to be seen to be even handed and scrupulously fair, recognising that failure to do so may be perceived as a deliberate act.’

The call for a Scrutiny Chair to ‘be strongly reminded of the importance of the work’ of her committee, and of the value of neutrality and being seen to be even-handed and fair, is unprecedented and should lead Cllr Randall Johnson to immediately consider her position. There is no public confidence that she will lead the committee to carry out full and impartial scrutiny of NHS decision-making.

The Standards Committee also ‘accepts that the events of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting on 25 July 2017 may not reflect well on individual Members or upon the Council as a whole, and further recognises that the perception gained by persons present at the meeting or subsequently viewing the webcast is not that which would have been desired’.

This stark acknowledgement of the damage done to Devon County Council’s reputation also requires early action by the Council to reassure the public that the Committee will do its job properly in future and protect the NHS in Devon.

The Scrutiny Committee ignored the views of local communities and their representatives and has allowed the CCG to get away with damaging cuts. The Council must now consider how to restore people’s faith that it will protect all our community hospitals in the future. I shall ensure that this is discussed when the Council meets on 5th October.

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton”

EDA County Councillor Martin Shaw on Seaton hospital bed cuts


Protestors from Seaton, Honiton, Okehampton and elsewhere in Devon will converge on County Hall again on Tuesday 25th July from 1 pm, before the special meeting of Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee at 2.15 which will decide whether to refer the closure of beds in the three hospitals to the Secretary of State.

NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group proposes to replace the beds with a new system of care at home. We shall be pointing out that:

The new system, which they have been developing only since March, has not been tested in winter, let alone a flu epidemic; it is uncertain that they will be able to staff it effectively over time given the complex travelling arrangements that it requires for medical as well as care staff.

The small number of beds (halved to 71) which they propose to retain across the 3 remaining community hospitals ignores the facts that East Devon has far more over-85s (the key users of community beds) than other areas of Devon and that these numbers are projected to treble in the next two decades.

The remaining beds will not be distributed in an ‘even geographic spread’ as the CCG claim but, concentrated in Tiverton, Exmouth and Sidmouth, give no provision at all in the Axe Valley which is the area of East Devon furthest from the RD&E.

The closure of beds is driven by the CCG’s aim of reducing the amount of rent which it has to pay to NHS Property Services for community hospital space, and is probably a prelude to the gradual elimination of community hospitals over the next few years.

Six speakers from the affected communities will address the Committee in the Public Participation session, and I shall be addressing them as County Councillor for Seaton and Colyton.

We urge that the Committee use its legal power to refer the CCG’s decisions to the Secretary of State.

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton”

EDDC: (second) postal votes fiasco WILL be scrutinised

“East Devon District Council’s chief executive will be asked to include an explanation of how 9,000 postal votes were sent out without an official security mark ahead of June’s General Election,

The postal vote pack sent out on May 25 to 9,000 voters by the Acting Returning Officer for the East Devon Mark Williams, who is also the council’s chief executive, contained voting slips that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper.

East Devon District Council were responsible for printing the ballot papers but Mr Williams issued a statement reassuring voters that no postal votes had been affected as a result of the error.

The council’s ruling cabinet committee voted on Thursday to agree with the council’s scrutiny committee that his forthcoming report to Cabinet on his two priority areas after the Parliamentary Election must include the explanation of the postal vote issue of May 25 that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper.

Paul Arnott, the chairman of the East Devon Alliance, had previously raised concerns about the fact that the council’s scrutiny committee were not able to investigate what he called the postal voting ‘cock-up’.

He was told that the current legal assessment is that the remit of the Scrutiny Committee does not extend to Parliamentary elections, which is the remit of the Electoral Commission. He queried this and was told that there is nothing laid down about where electoral matters can or can’t be discussed within the framework of local authority governance, and ultimately it is up to the Council and its operation of its scrutiny function as to whether any or all elections or electoral related matters are included in that scrutiny.

He has written to the council, asking them to take on board this advice and for scrutiny to investigate the matter, but in response, Henry Gordon Lennox, the Strategic Lead (Governance and Licensing) and Monitoring Officer of East Devon District Council, said that Mr Arnott had misinterpreted the advice he had been given and said that his query was ‘politically driven’.

Mr Gordon Lennox in a statement said: “In my view, Mr Arnott has misinterpreted the advice from the Electoral Commission, who said that there were no legislative provisions dealing with the role of Scrutiny and elections and therefore it is down to the rules of each authority that will dictate whether or not there is a role for Scrutiny.

“Mr Arnott has taken this to say that the Council’s Scrutiny Committee should be reviewing the conduct of elections. However, what they are saying, and it is my view too, is that effectively it is the Council’s Constitution and the Terms of Reference of the Scrutiny Committee that determine whether they can consider elections or electoral related matters.

“In general terms the role of Scrutiny is to review the actions relating to the various functions of the Council (in whatever form that takes). The role of Returning Officer is not part of the Council, save for the elections relating to towns and parishes and the district. It is for this reason that the Scrutiny Committee do not have the authority to consider the actions and conduct of the Acting Returning Officer / Deputy Returning Officer in the Parliamentary / County elections respectively.

“I think it important to also address the political side of this. I note that Mr Arnott says this is not political. However, Mr Arnott refers to the East Devon Alliance (EDA) report submitted to East Devon District Council following the May 2015 elections.

“Mr Arnott was at the time the Chair of the EDA and therefore a part of the Executive Committee who produced and submitted the report. At the County elections, Mr Arnott was an appointed election agent for the EDA.

“In the correspondence arising out of the postal vote issue during the Parliamentary election, Mr Arnott, when officially signing off his emails, referred to himself as the Chairman and Nominating Officer of the EDA.

“So my perception, notwithstanding what Mr Arnott says, is that his query is politically driven. To that end, the role of Scrutiny is supposed to be apolitical and I would be concerned that even if it were permissible for Scrutiny to be considering this matter, that the purpose for them so doing would be questionable.

“I have explained this matter in some detail in order to ensure that the correct context is understood and to give clarity on the issue. I would further confirm that, despite the above, it is my understanding that the Returning Officer will be presenting a report to Scrutiny at its next meeting on the key priorities he is working on, following what will now be the standard practice of a review process taking place after each election.”

In response, Mr Arnott said: “The independents who campaign under the protective umbrella of the East Devon Alliance have both a right and a civic duty in the public interest to ask questions about this matter without fear of partial criticism from the council’s legal chief.

“Nothing is more serious than questionable practices in a general election, and Mr Gordon Lennox’s boss, Mark Williams, has had since June 6 to the present day to simply explain why he printed the postal ballot papers sent out with no watermark or QR code himself and did not commission them from a professional printers. He has disdained to give a much-needed open answer and his team have focussed on giving reasons why he shouldn’t have to be questioned about it at Scrutiny. Why?

“Mr Gordon Lennox’s time would be better spent persuading his employer to answer councillors about their election concerns than taking swats at me. I am a volunteer while he and his boss are both handsomely paid by council tax payers.

“This matter, and the arrogant manner in which it continues to be dealt with is the essence of why the East Devon Alliance had to be constituted. When we say this issue is not political, what we mean is that Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents alike at EDDC should all be equally alarmed about yet another badly-run election paid for by local people. If they aren’t, they should be.”

“38 degrees” petition started on plans for Sidmouth’s Port Royal

“To: East Devon District Council c/o P Diviani and Sidmouth Town Council

Alternative plan for Sidmouth’s Port Royal – the 3R’s

Include our alternative plan for Port Royal: Retain, Refurbish, Reuse in your regeneration proposal in place of the current ‘multi-use development’.

Why is this important?

In October this year EDDC will decide on future development for the Port Royal area of our seafront. This follows a scoping study done in conjunction with Sidmouth Town Council. The large-scale development put forward in the consultation (and as proposed in the Local Plan) will have a huge impact on the views, use of the area and change its unique character. People in Sidmouth have been asking why the area can’t remain as it is, with subtle improvements and changes. We now call on EDDC to reconsider their plan for a large new building and adopt our proposal to Retain, Refurbish and Reuse. Retain existing buildings, allow careful refurbishment of the whole area and open up discussions on potential uses for the Drill Hall.

How it will be delivered

Delivery in person, to the Leader and Chair of EDDC and the Chair of STC”