A public consultation about improved NHS community services that keep people out of hospital unless clinically necessary is a step closer.
South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body today approved proposals to change NHS resources from bed-based hospital care to health and wellbeing teams that support people within their local communities, as close to their homes as possible.
NHS England, which leads the National Health Service, will consider the proposals next month. If it approves them, consultation will run for 12 weeks, giving people across South Devon and Torbay an opportunity to comment.
The proposals are designed to meet the rising demand for NHS services, ensure no-one has to travel further than necessary for treatment, meet national safety standards and ensure that hospital beds are available when clinically needed.
The new approach would see £3.9million invested in community services, and health and social care staff working more closely in new town-based health and wellbeing centres with the local voluntary sector.
The proposals say that to release funds that will support investment in community services, four community hospitals are likely to close – Bovey Tracey, Ashburton, Dartmouth and Paignton.
It also says that number of minor injury units will be reduced from seven to three – in Newton Abbot, Totnes and Dawlish – but they will be open seven days a week, with more consistent opening hours and x-ray facilities.
Dr Nick Roberts, the CCG’s chief clinical officer, said: “If NHS England approves the proposals, we will host a series of public meetings across South Devon and Torbay, where people will be able to hear the proposals in detail and feedback to us their views.
“People can give us their thoughts on where we are as a health and care community now and what changes are possible to make our services sustainable for the future.
“As I have said before, these proposals are about people rather than buildings. The local NHS feels that, in terms of general community care, people should only be admitted to hospital when medically necessary, and I think most people would agree with that.
“We want to create services that are more effective, closer to home, affordable and, in terms of MIUs, offer a real alternative to A&E, which will be very important for South Devon and Torbay.”
If the proposals are approved by NHS England, dates for the public meetings will be announced and full details of the proposals will be published on the CCG’s website.
A public questionnaire will also be provided, and the independent Healthwatch organisations in Devon and Torbay will collate the public feedback.