Devon CCG refuses to reveal crucial figures to independent county councillor

“Beds, beds, beds – Devon’s NHS couldn’t or wouldn’t give me their overall occupancy figure for the recent winter: but they were forced to buy in more capacity and there were ’12-hour trolley breaches’

Devon NHS’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) admitted in a report to Health Scrutiny yesterday that they had been desperately short of beds during the recent winter. They had to buy in extra beds to keep up with more patients staying longer, because of complex conditions. There were ’12-hour trolley breaches’, where patients had to wait more than 12 hours to be seen.

Despite my asking them directly, they did not give a figure for overall occupancy levels, although they did not deny my suggestion that they had been as bad as or worse than the nationally reported level of 95 per cent. (The nationally recommended safe level is 85 per cent.)

Jo Tearle, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the Devon CCGs, rebutted my suggestion that cutting community beds had contributed to this crisis, saying that these were not the kind of beds they had needed, and that there had been capacity in community hospitals most of the time. However this suggests that there was no capacity some of the time. It is difficult not to believe that extra community beds wouldn’t have given them more leeway.

Meanwhile, Kerry Storey of Devon County Council indicated the strains that the ‘new model of care’ at home had been under. She said that maintaining personal care at home during the winter had been ‘a real challenge’, requiring ‘creativity and innovation’ – you don’t need much imagination to see that it will have been a real crisis time with frail people at home in isolated areas, care workers and nurses struggling to get through the snow, and staff themselves suffering higher levels of illness.

I and others predicted that because of the closure of community beds, there would be severe pressure on beds in a bad winter or a flu epidemic (and actually, this was not overall a bad winter and the snow episodes were late and short; despite higher levels of flu, there was no epidemic this winter).”

Beds, beds, beds – Devon’s NHS couldn’t or wouldn’t give me their overall occupancy figure for the recent winter: but they were forced to buy in more capacity and there were ’12-hour trolley breaches’

“Free speech” at Devon County Council – only for Tory councillors?

From Martin Shaw, East Devon Alliance for Seaton and Colyton councillor at Devon County Council:

“Conservative Councillor Richard Scott from Exmouth – where the hospital is safe because it’s kept its beds – accused me of ‘abusing the procedure’ when I went along and argued why Seaton and Honiton hospitals, which my constituents use, need to stay open with all the services and clinics currently provided – and more.

Seaton and Honiton were named by Dr Simon Kerr of NEW Devon CCG as being ‘at risk’ in the CCGs’ forthcoming Local Estates Strategy. Although the CCG has denied it has plans to close the hospitals, all local hospitals which have lost their beds – including Axminster, Ottery St Mary and Okehampton – could still be closed.

I was fully within my rights to speak up for my constituents and this was an unworthy personal attack. ClaireWright and deputy chair Nick Way (Lib Dem) both defended me.

When Claire Wright put her motion for the Committee to protect ALL community hospitals, all the Conservative members voted against this and it was defeated.

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

Shock revelation suggests the NHS’s ‘new model of care’ is more about switching intermediate care from community hospitals to ‘block bookings’ in private nursing homes – saving costs and freeing up assets

Martin Shaw, East Devon Alliance councillor for Seaton and Colyton, Devon County Council:

Press release:

“There was a staggering revelation yesterday at Health Scrutiny from Liz Davenport, Chief Executive of South Devon and Torbay NHS Foundation Trust, that they had made ‘block bookings of intermediate care beds in nursing homes’ when they introduced the ‘new model of care’. South Devon has closed community hospitals in Ashburton, Bovey Tracey, Paignton and Dartmouth and is currently consulting on the closure of Teignmouth – where I spoke at a rally last Saturday.

The ‘new model of care’ is supposed to mean more patients treated in their own homes, and there does seem to have been an increase in the numbers of patients sent straight home from the main hospitals.

But the idea that all patients can be transferred directly from acute hospitals to home is untrue. There is still a need for the stepping-down ‘intermediate care’ traditionally provided by community hospitals – the only difference is that now it’s being provided in private nursing homes instead.

It’s likely to be cheaper to use private homes, because staff don’t get NHS conditions, and crucially it frees up space in the hospitals so that the CCGs can declare buildings ‘surplus to requirements’ and claim the Government’s ‘double your money’ bonus for asset sales. It seems NEW Devon CCG has also made extensive use of nursing home beds, but we don’t yet know if there were ‘block bookings’.

However the private nursing home solution may not last – DCC’s chief social care officer, Tim Golby, reported that nursing homes are finding it difficult to keep the registered nurses they need to operate, and some are considering reversion to residential care homes.

This may be where the South Devon trust’s long term solution comes in – it had already been reported that it is looking to partner with a private company in a potential £100m dealwhich will include creating community hubs that contain inpatient beds.

The new model of care is also about privatisation.”

Devon County Council Tories kill off community hospitals

From the blog of Claire Wright:

“Seven Conservative councillors today block voted down my proposal to “strongly support” retaining all Devon community hospital buildings and to “strongly oppose” any potential plans to declare them surplus to requirements.

And in what became a rather heated debate, one conservative, Cllr Richard Scott, disgracefully accused the assiduous and polite Independent Seaton councillor, Martin Shaw of abusing his right to address councillors.

I had requested an item on community hospital buildings at today’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting, as there is a continual threat in the air of the possibility that the buildings may be declared surplus to requirements and be sold off. There remains anxiety and concern in local communities as a result.

Last month, NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group was forced to deny they had “any plans” to declare Honiton and Seaton Hospitals surplus to requirements, following comments made at a campaign meeting.

Dr Simon Kerr, the GP who was quoted in the notes published, later said his comments had been misinterpreted.

The Estates Strategy, which will set out what is proposed to be done with the buildings owned by the local NHS, is due out soon, possibly as early as next month.

In presenting my case I set out how the committee had been unable to secure assurances from health service managers for a long time that buildings were safe, that Dartmouth Hospital is being sold off and that the ownership of 12 community hospitals in Eastern Devon was in the hands of NHS Property Services which was charging over £3m rents for the upkeep of the buildings.

I believe these rents are still being met by NHS England, but this is only a temporary measure and soon the bill will fall on the doormat of the deeply in deficit NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.

Cllr Brian Greenslade seconded my proposal.

Speaking in support were also Cllr Carol Whitton (Labour) and Cllr Nick Way (Libdem).

For some reason the conservative councillors were all opposed to my proposal. Several said there was no evidence, that it was just speculation that there was even a risk to the buildings.

Conservative councillor, Jeff Trail, didn’t appear to like my proposal but said he thoroughly supported Cllr Carol Whitton’s position, which was rather confusing as she had just said she backed me!

Cllr John Berry didn’t like my recommendation because the committee didn’t own the buildings. He wanted us to write to the CCG to ask what the status of the buildings was instead.

Cllr Sylvia Russell thought she had heard an NHS manager say at some point at today’s meeting that the buildings were safe so there was nothing to worry about. No one else seemed to recall this.

Cllr Richard Scott dismissed my proposal as “speculation” and claimed there was “no evidence” to back up my concerns.

Referring to Cllr Martin Shaw, who had just set out calmly and eloquently the concerns of his own community of Seaton, Cllr Scott added: “In some respects this is an abuse of a right to speak at this committee. There’s nothing here to consider.”

Chair, Sara Randall Johnson, wanted to take account of Paul Crabb’s view, which was that some hospitals might be old and in a poor state of repair, but I said we should have a simple and clear proposal or the CCG would drive a coach and horses through it.

I reminded the committee (yet again) that our committee was the only legally constituted check on health services in the county and it is our job to act on issues of public concern, which this very much was.

I added that it was important to take a position now and before the Estates Strategy was published so our views could inform the strategy.

My words fell on deaf ears. I had genuinely thought, that despite all the past political shenanigans on that committee – and there have been many – that the Conservatives might have backed this one, as not a single member of their own communities would have surely wanted them to vote a different way.

There was every reason for the entire committee to be unanimously in favour of my proposal.

What a huge shame.

Voting in favour: Me, Brian Greenslade (LibDem – Barnstaple North), Nick Way (LibDem – Crediton), Carol Whitton (Labour – St David’s and Haven Banks).

Voting against: (All Conservative): John Berry (Cullompton and Bradninch), John Peart (Kingsteignton and Teign Estuary) Sylvia Russell (Teignmouth) Richard Scott (Lympstone and Woodbury), Paul Crabb (Ilfracombe), Andrew Saywell (Torrington Rural), Jeff Trail (Lympstone and Woodbury)

The debate is available to view at item 10 from this link – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/325480

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/health_scrutiny_conservative_councillors_block_vote_down_proposal_to_protec

CCG somewhat opaque on future of Honiton and Seaton hospital closures

Owl says: This is the sort of Press Release the CCG excels at. Telling us what the situation is at present but giving no guarantees that there will not be future cuts to current services (some of which, such as dermatology in Seaton, have already been closed.

Owl would also like to know how many of the extra 20,000 deaths noted in the first quarter of this year were in East Devon.

From EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw:

“NEW Devon CCG have issued the attached statement criticising ‘inaccurate information’ about Honiton and Seaton hospitals, after Dr Simon Kerr, Chair of the CCG’s Eastern Locality, was credibly reported as saying that these two hsopitals are ‘at risk’ in their Local Estates Strategy due this summer.

I welcome the CCG’s statement that it has no plans to close either hospital. However it has not denied that Dr Kerr said that they were at risk.

The CCG could end this controversy today if it gave an unequivocal assurance that both hospitals will continue for the foreseeable future with the present or enhanced levels of service. People in Honiton and Seaton were badly let down by the CCG over hospital beds and they won’t trust them now without a clear statement that our hospitals are safe in the coming Local Estates Strategy.”

The statement from the CCG reads:

“There have been reports today that the future of Honiton and Seaton Hospitals is under question.

NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group wishes to make clear that there are no plans to close Honiton and Seaton hospitals.

In March 2017, the Governing Body of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning voted to implement a number of changes following a 13 week public consultation. This included the decision to close inpatient beds at both Honiton and Seaton hospitals.

Beds were closed in both hospitals in August 2017 as more care was introduced to look after people at home. Both hospitals are still open, thriving buildings providing more than 50 day services and clinics combined.”

Still time to register for the East Devon Alliance conference on Saturday 26 May

EAST DEVON ALLIANCE PEOPLE’S CONFERENCE
“TIME FOR A CHANGE”
SATURDAY 26TH MAY 10am-1.30pm
BEEHIVE, HONITON

All across East Devon people are worried about their HEALTH, their HOMES and their JOBS. Never has it been more important to involve yourself with local democracy in your district.. YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.

The EAST DEVON ALLIANCE is trying to help with all of this, an umbrella group of Independent people, who since 2015 have won 7 district council seats and 1 county seat. The EDA is free from the negative influence of national parties who – at East Devon District Council – have acquired the arrogant habits of a Conservative one-party state.

This conference is for YOU. Speakers will include County Councillors CLAIRE WRIGHT and MARTIN SHAW, and PAM BARRETT, Chair of the Independent Buckfastleigh Town Council and regional expert on transforming democracy from the bottom up.

In two sessions you will be able to hear our experience and then CONTRIBUTE your own personal views:

a) how did the democratic deficit in East Devon happen? Or – the problem.

b) what can we do about it through democracy in our parishes, towns and district. Or – the solution.

Please come. We are all volunteers but if we band together now to fight for hospitals, homes and jobs we have a chance to change how our local area is run.

Parking: nearest is Lace Walk. 2 minute walk. If full, New Street, 5 mins

Reserve a free place now!
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/east-devons-time-for-a-change-peoples-conference-tickets-45482525458

East Devon Alliance DCC Martin Shaw responds to threat of full closure of Seaton Hospital

“Martin​ Shaw
County Councillor for Seaton and Colyton​

LETTER TO THE CHAIR OF NEW DEVON CCG

Dear Dr Burke,

We have seen draft notes prepared by 38 Degrees of your meeting with them on April 5th. According to these, Simon Kerr said (before your own arrival) that Seaton and Honiton hospitals were ‘at risk’ in the coming Estates Strategy. These remarks, written down at the time, have been confirmed to us by several participants. While we appreciate that no formal decision may have been taken, there seems little reason not to take them as a clear indication of CCG thinking.

As the two elected local politicians on the organising group of Seaton Health Matters, the community conversation launched together together with the CCG and RD&E, we hosted Dr Kerr at the launch meeting on 23rd March, which also heard Em Wilkinson-Bryce (copied in) appeal to the audience to trust in the ‘good intentions’ of the speakers from the NHS organisations. We have no reason at all to doubt her sincerity, but it is difficult for us to believe in the good faith of Dr Kerr and the CCG, as (unless he had only just picked up the names of the ‘at risk’ hospitals) it seems to us that you may have helped launched us into a discussion of local health needs knowing that you may be moving to deprive us of our major health resource, Seaton Hospital.

Our initial Health Matters discussion broached many areas of constructive cooperation between the local community and the NHS, which we are keen to pursue. However it also left no doubt of the need to maintain the 50+ outpatient services currently based in the Hospital, the desirability of bringing in additional services if place-based care is to be meaningful, and the needs of an elderly community (with significant pockets of deprivation and poor public transport) for as many clinics, etc., as possible on the doorstep rather than in other towns. We are ready to explore the possibility of a combined health hub for the Axe Valley, but on the basis that services would be more or less equally shared across the two hospitals and there would be no reduction in the overall level of services in each. The other thing that was clear from our discussion was that the community considers the Hospital a community resource since its building was half-funded by local donations and it has been maintained by local contributions ever since. I am sure that people in Axminster and Honiton feel the same about theirs.

You should not underestimate the local anger, only just subsiding, over the removal of beds from Seaton Hospital. It bears repeating that this was widely regarded, including outside Seaton, as an unjust choice based on a misuse of the JSNA data and misleading assumptions about the relative agedness of the populations of Seaton and Sidmouth (their age structure is in fact almost identical and the comparison did not justify a choice of Sidmouth over Seaton). It was also based on false claims that the Sidmouth option would involve a better geographical spread: a glance at the map would have shown that, on the contrary, it left the remaining community beds concentrated in the southwestern corner of East Devon with none in the Axe Valley. There is similar feeling in Honiton because the Your Future Care consultation did not even include an option which would have retained their hospital’s beds.

We mention this history not to try to reverse the beds decisions (although the shortage of beds in the recent winter should lead to it being looked at again) but because the treatment of Seaton and Honiton in those decisions should be a reason for generosity in the distribution of outpatient services and in the Estates Strategy. It is adding insult to injury to place Seaton and Honiton on a shortlist of potential closures. Having switched your decision last time against Seaton, you should now reconsider again in Seaton’s favour. This is not, of course, to suggest that any other hospital should be closed instead. On the contrary, all East Devon towns have community hospitals which reflect real local needs and you should be devising a system of health hubs which enables all communities to have a solid base for place-based care.

The next meeting of Seaton Health Matters is scheduled for 24th May. We do not wish it to be dominated by the fallout from Dr Kerr’s remarks but without an unequivocal assurance that Seaton Hospital will remain open, it is unavoidable that this will be the main topic of discussion.

We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest opportunity. We have also copied this to Sonja Manton since we discussed the Health Matters process with Em and her before it began. We should like to meet with you about this, but before the 24th any meeting would have to be late that afternoon or on the 23rd, as one of us is away until the morning of the 22nd.

Regards,

Martin Shaw
County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton

Jack Rowland
Seaton Town Council”