Joint council meeting hears about future of healthcare in northern Devon

North Devon District HospitalNorth Devon District Hospital

Posted on: 23 November 2018

A joint meeting of North Devon Council and Torridge District Council heard from a range of health providers and concerned residents about the future of health services in North Devon last week (16 November).

North Devon Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, together with councillors from Torridge, invited representatives from the North Devon Healthcare Trust, Devon Partnership Trust, NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Healthwatch Devon. Save Our Hospital Services (SOHS), the local pressure group that campaigns to protect our health services, also attended.

During a question and answer session, the group discussed the future of the North Devon District Hospital, including the challenge of keeping services fully staffed and the hope to return more specialisms, such as Ear Nose and Throat, to Barnstaple from Exeter.
Chair of the committee, Councillor John Patrinos says: “I am pleased that we were able to gather some key healthcare organisations under the same room to discuss what is a concerning issue for residents of North Devon. I was surprised that the main concern of the healthcare providers wasn’t the ever-decreasing funding of the NHS, but instead the difficulty in finding qualified staff, which is a national problem. However, the plans by the new Chief Executive of our hospital to try and return more specialisms to our hospitals were warmly welcomed.”

Councillor Philip Pennington, Vice Chair of Torridge Overview & Scrutiny says: “Torridge thank NDC for the opportunity to put a united voice to those involved in delivering healthcare in our districts. Thank you to all the panellists for their contribution. There were very significant points discussed. In monitoring productive health procedures which produce positive outcomes appear to highlight some poor use of resources within the NHS. Given there will be ever increasing pressures on health services across the whole of the UK it was a valued point of discussion whether the focus should be on health or on health education. I hope this forum will continue to work together on pan northern Devon issues.”

Member of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor David Worden says: “The most surprising thing I heard was the Chair of the CCG telling us that their flagship ‘Care Closer to Home’ initiative that led to the closure of nearly all of our community hospitals had never been implemented. This extraordinary statement came shortly after we’d heard about the results of a survey on people’s experience of Care Closer to Home conducted by SOHS.”

Member of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Jasmine Chesters says: “I was pleased we had so many groups dealing with healthcare in northern Devon presenting to us at the same time. I think that trying to keep people in their homes, rather than admitting them to hospital, would be a good thing if there were enough care providers but they are seriously understaffed. I believe that many people would hope to see the hospital grow in all areas because the amount of new homes being given permission to be built will put an even greater demand on the already stretched services provided by the excellent staff we already have.”

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee will next meet on 10 January 2019.

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