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Consultation to begin next month

Plans to consult on local community health services have been given the go-ahead by NHS England and will begin on 1 September for 12 weeks.

The proposals from South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the majority of health services in the area, were first published in April.

They look at strengthening the health services used by most people – switching resources from bed-based hospital care to community-based care, enabling more people to be supported in or near their own homes.

A series of public meetings (here​) has been organised across South Devon and Torbay, enabling people to give their views on the proposals.

A consultation document will be published on 1 September, setting out the proposals and explaining the reasons for change and the benefits they bring. The document will be available online and in paper form.

Dr Nick Roberts, chief clinical officer at the CCG, said: “It’s taken a lot of discussion and planning to get us to this point and we’re now pleased to be able to consult on this important issue.

“We are keen to hear the people’s thoughts on community services that are affordable, will meet increasing health needs, and are clinically sound and sustainable.

“The services we have in South Devon and Torbay cannot stay as they are. Times have changed, and so have people’s needs.

“A larger number of people are living longer, and with older age comes more complex healthcare needs – but, as we all know, the funds that are available can’t match this increasing need.

“No decisions will be made on the future shape of services until after the consultation and when all feedback and alternative proposals have been thoroughly considered.”

In looking to strengthen community-based services by investing more resources, the CCG is proposing to reduce the number of community hospital beds by closing Ashburton, Bovey Tracy, Dartmouth and Paignton hospitals.

Minor injury units would also be reduced in number, but they would be open for more consistent hours – 8am to 8pm – and be supported by x-ray diagnostics.

Mairead McAlinden, chief executive at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The proposals for change are an important part of our new model of care and I would encourage everybody, including our staff, to take part, listen to the proposals and to give their views.

“The proposals are for a different way of providing care with more care delivered in or close to people’s homes. This will mean strengthening the community-based teams and services that most people use, so there is less reliance on hospital beds.”