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CCG defends decision to close over half of community hospital beds


11 November 2016

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North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has defended its decision to close more than half of community hospital beds in East Devon.

The CCG is planning to close 54% of beds in East Devon to bring the total ‘in line with the rest of NEW Devon’, according to the consultation document.

The area currently has 143 beds in eight community hospitals, but under the CCG’s new plans only 71 beds will remain open across three hospitals.

North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has defended its decision to close more than half of community hospital beds in East Devon.

The CCG is planning to close 54% of beds in East Devon to bring the total ‘in line with the rest of NEW Devon’, according to the consultation document.

The area currently has 143 beds in eight community hospitals, but under the CCG’s new plans only 71 beds will remain open across three hospitals.

The CCG is currently facing a financial shortfall of £122m in 2015/16, projected to rise to £384m in 2020/21, according to the consultation document.

But the CCG said the closures would save between £2.8m and £5.6m a year, after an additional investment of £1.4m is made in community services.

The proposals stem from the Wider Devon's sustainability and transformation plan (STP), which says closing community hospitals will ‘facilitate implementation of the care model and release funding to invest in more ambulatory care provision in community and home-based settings’.

Dr David Jenner, a GP and chairman of the Eastern locality for the CCG, defended the proposals saying: ‘Bed-based care will always be available for people who need to be in a hospital but we need to make sure the alternative of home-based care is always considered.

‘Too many people are currently in hospitals that don’t need to be there and they could be receiving a better service at home.’

Angela Pedder, the STP lead for Wider Devon, added: ‘At times when people are at their most vulnerable and most in need of support, our current system requires them to navigate their way through the multiple boundaries that exist between services.

‘Our GPs and other clinical staff also described similar difficulties. This results in delays, multiple assessments, and frequently the only care intervention available is an emergency referral to a hospital due to the lack of a more appropriate, easily accessible alternative service.

‘We recognise the changes we are proposing will prompt difficult debate but we firmly believe the options in the consultation represent a real opportunity for us to improve care.’

But Dr Bruce Hughes, chair of Devon LMC, said fewer beds could mean more ‘acutely unwell’ patients will being treated in the community with the medical cover falling on GPs to deliver – ‘potentially overwhelming services which are already stretched due to high demand and a lack of investment’.

He said: ‘There needs to be greater recognition of the pressures faced by our GP practices and the impact that transforming the wider local healthcare system has on them – backed by resources.

‘This will help to ensure that local general practice is sustainable in the future so patients receive treatment, care and support relevant to their needs.’

The NEW Devon CCG consultation will run until 6 January 2017.

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