Friday, 2 December 2016

The future of Devon's hospitals: getting the figures right

There is not only a great deal of anger over the proposal to close hospitals in Devon - but a lot of dismay about how the information is being handled:
Futures Forum: The future of East Devon's hospitals: getting the figures right
Futures Forum: The future of Sidmouth's hospitals: getting the figures right

More questions have been asked this week.

From the Save Our Hospital Services campaign:


27 November 2016


The ‘Success Regime’/STP Team in Devon

“Save Our Hospital Services Devon (SOHS Devon) is today calling for the abolition of NHS England’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Wider Devon and the suspension of the so-called Success Regime for North, East and West Devon that is now an integral part.

“These two programmes are false, flawed and fraudulent,” says Dave Clinch, a spokesperson for SOHS in North Devon. “They are riddled with public-private, professional-personal conflicts of interest.”

SOHS Devon points out that the Case for Change document on which both the Success Regime and the STP are based was produced by a private-owned health service consultancy, Carnall Farrar. One of the consultancy’s founding partners, Dame Ruth Carnall, is now the ‘Independent’ Chair of the Success Regime pushing through the STP in Devon.

“SOHS Devon believes that there is a pre-determined agenda in Devon to cut services, limit access and reduce demand by redefining medical need to ensure that government cuts are carried out. How can Ms Carnall, who produced the blueprint for the STP, be considered remotely independent in assessing our needs or services to meet them?” asks Mr Clinch.

SOHS Devon points out that to push their agenda for cuts to NHS services and staff, the Success Regime/STP team will have been allocated £7.4 million between 2015 and 2017. Some of this funding has been used to recruit senior staff from those same services they plan to cut; for example, Andy Robinson, who left his role as Director of Finance at the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust to join the Success Regime in Exeter. What is more, Mr Robinson happens to be the partner of the Chief Executive of the Trust, Alison Diamond.

“Professional or personal? How can this relationship avoid directly impacting on the life-and-death decisions now being made?” says Mr Clinch.

Meanwhile, the proposed relocation to Exeter of acute services based at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) is being overseen by the Success Regime’s Lead Chief Executive Angela Pedder, the former CEO of the Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust.

“How can she be considered unbiased given her former role?” says Mr Clinch. It’s no coincidence that RD&E needs to cover a much bigger deficit than NDDH in Barnstaple.”

On top of this, the two leads on the STP’s Acute Services Review programme are both from hospitals in South Devon, namely Derriford in Plymouth and Torbay in Torquay. SOHS Devon can find no evidence that they are talking to the clinicians working in acute services at NDDH. And the fact is, if the proposed acute services cuts go ahead, people here in North Devon will suffer and die”.


“False, flawed and fraudulent” says “Save Our Hospital Services” of NHS plans for Devon | East Devon Watch

From further Freedom of Information requests:
New Devon CCG transformation: as transparent as a lead block | East Devon Watch

From the Royal College of Surgeons:

Number of hospital beds in Devon falls, creating potential risk for patients

By Neil_Shaw | Posted: November 26, 2016

The number of beds at a Devon hospital trust have fallen by more than a quarter over the past six years. In July to September 2010, the average number of general and acute beds open overnight at Torbay and South Devon was 522. By July to September 2016, this had fallen 26% to 387.

The occupancy rate for these beds has grown from 64.6% in July to September 2010, to 87.7% in 2016, an increase of 36%, one of the highest in England. At Northern Devon, the number of beds has also dropped by 21%, from 370 to 294, with occupancy rates rising from 85.5% to 86.4% over the same period.

Across England, for general and acute beds open overnight, the occupancy rate between July and September was 89.1%, up from 87% over the same period in 2015. The average daily number of beds open overnight was 129,458 in July to September 2016 compared with 130,774 in April to June. The average occupancy rate for all beds open overnight was 87.5%.

Health experts advise that occupancy levels should ideally be under 85%. Anything over this level is regarded as riskier for patients as this leads to bed shortages, periodic bed crises, and a rise in healthcare-acquired infections such as MRSA.

Commenting on the numbers, Mr Ian Eardley, a consultant urological surgeon and Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

"The NHS has been able to reduce bed numbers as medical advances mean more modern surgery can take place without an overnight stay. However, these figures suggest bed reductions have now gone too far in the absence of sufficient social care or community care alternatives.

"We are now seeing increasing numbers of frail older patients in hospital because they have nowhere else to go. The lack of additional money in the Autumn Statement for social care and the NHS is only going to make this even harder.

"Today's figures will come as no surprise to frontline staff who struggle every day to provide for their patients because of increasing demands and a shortage of hospital beds. I and too many of my colleagues all around the country are regularly having to cancel patients' operations due to a lack of beds and delays in transferring patients back into the community.

"A number of sustainability and transformation plans are proposing further hospital bed reductions. Today's figures suggest NHS leaders need to think carefully about whether this is a good idea without first putting in place better care in the community."

The Royal College of Surgeons warned the figures almost certainly underestimate hospital bed shortages in the NHS. The Nuffield Trust think tank warned last month that NHS England's bed occupancy statistics do not show the true scale of the problem, stating that "with a growing number of patients coming and going during the day, counting bed occupancy at midnight means that crunch times are often invisible".

Number of hospital beds in Devon falls, creating potential risk for patients | Exeter Express and Echo

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