100 signatures reached
To: S. Devon & Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group
Keep Our Community Hospitals Open!
We disagree with the proposals to close 4 of our community hospitals in South Devon & Torbay. We also consider that the current consultation feedback method is manipulative and not fit for purpose.
Why is this important?
Regarding the current public consultation on the proposed closure of 4 community hospitals (Paignton, Dartmouth, Ashburton/Buckfastleigh and Bovey Tracey) by the S Devon & Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group and their replacement with more care at home and in local care homes.
The consultation questionnaire makes it clear that the changes proposed by CCG are a cost-saving exercise and not led by a pursuit of clinical excellence and the best interest of patients. Sale of the hospital sites for development will undoubtedly produce a quick, one-off financial gain but our concern is that any funding freed up for more community and home-based care will be less high-profile and therefore easier to target in future rounds of cuts...
We recall the 'care in the community' initiative many years ago that led to the closure of specialised mental health units - since then there has been a gradual erosion of out-patient mental health services, until now, here in Devon, we have no long-term services for people with chronic mental health problems remaining - just 'acute' services which only provide short-term support - after this patients are on their own to sink or swim.
Is this to be the future for our elderly and chronically ill too?
The suggestion is that that many services currently provided by the highly professional staff at community hospitals could be provided by private care homes instead, at lower cost and that this would help 'stimulate the care home market'. This is privatisation of the NHS 'by the back door', which we believe is politically-motivated. Presumably these cost-savings could be achieved because private care homes have lower rates of pay, few medically trained staff and little in the way of long-term job security. Unfortunately, despite these savings, or perhaps because of them, the care-home sector in this country is in a state of crisis and is, in our opinion, in no fit state to take on more responsibility for the care of our chronically sick and elderly. We do not think that it is an appropriate use of tax-payers money to 'stimulate' profits for this sector and those that benefit from these, at the expense of our hospitals and their patients.
In addition, this 'race-to-the-bottom' - the cost-saving privatisation of the NHS and other public sector services - is extremely short-sighted in our view. It does not take into account the long-term effects on individuals and the community of the loss of decently paid, secure local jobs. These are already few and far between here and the loss of decent, long-term employment in our communities is a surely a major contributing factor to increasing physical and emotional ill-health...
Finally, we object strongly to the form of the consultation questionnaire provided on paper and online at www.communityconsultation.co.uk consultation feedback mechanism promoted by the CCG. We were shocked by the manipulative design of this form and felt that the respondent is being co-erced into answering in such a way as would support the CCG's proposals. We feel that the questions are leading and loaded and the structure of the form constrains and restricts free expression and doesn't encourage or support the communication of the thoughts and opinions of the respondent. We therefore consider it not fit for purpose and thereby challenge the validity of any results obtained from this during the consultation process.
We expect the health service and the local CCG to champion the case for maintaining the standards necessary for good quality patient care and to elicit the public's opinions and thoughts about such an important issue, not to try and coax us into accepting a reduction in provision. We would not dispute that we need better care for chronically ill and older people locally and at home, but this should surely be in addition to, not at the expense of, the wonderful, caring and professional service that we already receive from our hospitals - within our communities and close to the support of family and friends.