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Winter contingency plans approved

​Bov​ey Tracey and Asburton & Buckfastleigh community hospitals

Proposals have been approved to temporarily move beds from two community hospitals to Newton Abbot if there is a significant rise in the number of patients being admitted this winter.

The plans to move beds at community hospitals in Bovey Tracey and Ashburton & Buckfastleigh to Newton Abbot Community Hospital will enable the NHS to cope with the increase in demand for care that winter generally brings.

It will mean that patients will be in two ward areas at Newton Abbot, rather than the four wards at 9-bed Bovey Tracey and 10-bed Ashburton, ensuring the safe ratio of one nurse to every eight patients.

There will also be less reliance on temporary staff, who are often used at Ashburton and Bovey Tracey because of difficulties recruiting for rural areas.

This will ensure a continuity of staff who will be better able to care for an increased number of patients with complex needs, and there will be a reduction in the risks that arise from the reliance on temporary staffing.

The winter contingency decision was welcomed by Dr Mike Haugh, urgent care lead at South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the majority of healthcare in the area.

He said: “By temporarily closing beds at the two community hospitals and concentrating regular staff from them in one place, more patients can be looked after safely in a hospital where doctors are present throughout the day and where there are more facilities such as x-ray.

“Reliance on temporary agency staff, which can often increase in winter, will be significantly reduced.”

A four-week invitation to comment on the proposals closed on 15 October. About 40 individuals and organisations responded, with the majority saying they did not want the proposals implemented.

These views were made available to the System Resilience Group, which brings together representatives of health and social care organisations and the Governing Body of the CCG.

But it was felt that the views did not suggest any effective, viable alternatives to the proposals.

It was therefore decided that the plans represent the best way of ensuring that throughout winter pressures, patients have access to the services they need and that there are sufficient staff to look after them safely.

Dr Haugh added: “Beds will therefore be relocated to Newton Abbot when the health service does not have enough capacity to cope with increasing numbers of patients, has too few regular staff, and there are  concerns over the quality of care and the safety of patients.”

More information here.