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Changes to community health services approved

South Devon and Torbay will have community-based health services that provide the best possible care for the future.

This was the announcement from South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), whose Governing Body voted today (Thursday) to switch resources from hospital bed-based care to community-based care to improve health services and meet increasing demand.

Members of the Governing Body agreed that by strengthening community-based services, more people will be looked after at home, so fewer people would need to be admitted and kept in hospital unnecessarily. As a result, hospitals in Ashburton and Buckfastleigh, Bovey Tracey, Dartmouth and Paignton will close.

Members also agreed three additions to proposals first published last April:

  • Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Hospital will be evaluated as a base for the area’s local health and wellbeing centre, which would include GPs.
  • A proposal to establish an urgent care centre on the Torbay Hospital site to provide an MIU service to the Bay should be pursued.
  • Specialist outpatient clinics will continue in Paignton, where the volume of patients makes this a more appropriate option to travelling to Brixham, Totnes or Torbay.

The papers from the Governing Body meeting are here.

Dr Nick Roberts, CCG chief clinical officer, said: “Evidence locally and nationally shows that supporting people in or near their own homes provides more effective outcomes for many patients, and this has to be one of our key priorities.

“Some £5.1million is being invested in health and wellbeing teams which will bring together  nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social care support to look after people closer to home.

“We believe that these changes will meet the demands of our modern society – but I want to stress that high-quality hospital care will still be available when needed for patients. That’s essential.”

The aim is for the changes to be implemented as soon as parameters are met to ensure that new services operate safely. The parameters include for example:

  • the remaining community hospital inpatient services meet the requirement for safe staffing standards for sub-acute bed-based care
  • Newton Abbot and Totnes MIUs to be open 8am-8pm 7 days a week, and that these MIUs to have radiology at least four hours a day, seven days a week
  • intermediate care (for patients who need care but don’t need a hospital) operating at least six days a week.

Thursday’s meeting came after a 12-week public consultation. Feedback from the consultation was independently collated by Healthwatch, and the resulting report provided an overview of common themes, comments and criticisms, as well as listing a range of suggestions made by the public.

What today’s decision means for each of the main towns:

  • Bovey Tracey/Chudleigh: hospital will close; health and wellbeing centre to be co-located with GPs.
  • Ashburton/Buckfastleigh: hospital to close but the site will be evaluated with a view to it becoming a health and wellbeing centre, co-located with GPs.
  • Newton Abbot: to have medical beds, MIU, clinical hub and health and wellbeing centre.
  • Totnes: to have medical beds, MIU, clinical hub and health and wellbeing centre.
  • Dartmouth: the hospital to close; a health and wellbeing centre will be co-located with GPs (likely at the Riverview site); Dartmouth clinic will close.
  • Brixham: to have a clinical hub, including medical beds, and health and wellbeing centre.
  • Paignton: hospital will close; a health and wellbeing centre and specialist outpatients will be created; the Midvale clinic will close.
  • Torquay: to have a health and wellbeing centre, plus urgent care centre.

All the information and documentation made available as part of the consultation is available here.