This morning I attended a vigil outside Honiton Community Hospital. It was called to mark the end of inpatient care in the town. It was a sad day, as it now means that there are no inpatient beds in the hospitals in Seaton, Axminster, Honiton and Ottery St Mary.
I wasn’t sure what to expect … it’s a Bank Holiday and the weather was glorious … so I half expected to be there with just a handful of people.
I was wrong.
The event had been organised by Honiton Patients’ Action Group … a well-organised and furious bunch of people.
A group of about 50 turned up, armed to the teeth with placards, happy to vent their feelings to the local press about the parlous state of future community health provision.
Among those present this morning was Cllr Martin Shaw (county councillor for Seaton and Colyton) who spoke about his grave concerns for health provision. He had also addressed Devon County Council’s Scrutiny Committee meeting in July (https://seatonmatters.org/2017/07/26/the-health-scrutiny-committee-which-didnt-scrutinise/).
The decision to close the inpatient beds in Honiton had not been the subject of public consultation, so those present felt that this was sufficient cause for Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to refer the decision to close the hospital beds to the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt. In turn, he would have had to refer the decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (which describes itself as ‘the independent expert on NHS service change’).
Had that decision been made at their July meeting (https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/293466), those present at the vigil today would probably have still been worried about their future health care, but at least they would have felt that every avenue open to them had been explored.
Instead they were denied this last opportunity by political shenanigans of epic proportion.
I watched the webcast of the July meeting of DCC Health Scrutiny Committee (http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/conduct-committee-members-investigated-devon-312213) and was frankly appalled at the charade being played out before my eyes.
Questions have been raised about how the meeting was conducted and the Standards Committee at DCC meets tomorrow to decide if the complaints are well founded.
Meanwhile, members of East Devon District Council have expressed dismay about the way an almost unanimous vote on a Motion expressing real concern about the conduct of the Clinical Commissioning Group was ignored and have called an Extra Ordinary Meeting of full Council to discuss a Motion of No Confidence in the leader, Cllr Paul Diviani, who sat on Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee as a representative of the leaders of all the district councils in Devon.
Cllr Diviani effectively voted against referring the decision to close inpatients beds in Honiton to the Secretary of State and later admitted under robust questioning that he had not canvassed the views of the other leaders.
The Extra Ordinary Council meeting will be held on Wednesday 13 September at EDDC’s headquarters at the Knowle, Sidmouth, starting at 6 p.m.