PARISH COUNCIL RESPONSE TO PROPOSED HOSPITAL BED CLOSURE
Below is a response sent by Sticklepath Parish Council to Okehampton Town Council to be included in the evidence which it was putting to the Secretary of State. In addition, the Parish Council put up a flyer in the shop window, distributed it at meetings and put a petition in the shop which attracted 80 signatures. 3 personal letters were received by Cllr Derek Moore and forwarded to Okehampton Town Council to be included in the evidence to be sent to the Secretary of State.
Here is the response from Sticklepath Parish Council:
The factors for keeping local hospital beds are;
1. The growth of Okehampton, which has been planned to increase housing and facilities in this area in a multi-agency response to population-needs locally, nationally and regionally. Local MPs, Borough/County and Parish/Town Councils collaborated on growth and development plans on the expectation that local hospital services would be maintained. A decision by one agency is being made without recognition of the impact on others. 2. Social Care services are extremely stretched in West Devon, and need to be coordinated imaginatively with local Health Services, included in-hospital provision of beds when needed, and planned returns to home care.
3. The ageing population is a considerable challenge in Devon, augmented by increased life expectancy but also the in-flow of older patients retiring to this area.
4. Okehampton provides the recuperation facility taking pressure off the acute beds in main hospitals, and bridges to care services to enable patients to return home more speedily,
5. The lack of transport in the rural area, including Sticklepath, reduces visiting options, We emphasise the lack of regular/reliable public transport not only for visitors but for patients to attend both out patients & in-patient appointments, especially the early morning appointments. (Many in-patients have to be on the ward by 7 / 8 a.m. to prepare for surgery, and Outpatient appointments can start at 8am. This is impossible to access by public transport from this village.
6. The proposals take no account of environmental impacts e.g. increased private car journeys, traffic congestion in a major city
7. Patients are clearly stating that they prefer local access and support services, and that overall well-being may be reduced being far from home, family & friends.This includes reduced number of visitors for in-patients to distanced hospital facilities, leading to isolation especially for the less mobile, and possibly elderly, patient. There is a real fear that some residents (especially elderly) will be unwilling to pursue medical conditions because of the need to travel to Exeter – will again create more pressure for GPs to manage debilitating illnesses
8. Changes to services are being considered within an overall constraint on funding and not with wide enough consultation on what would make better services/impact on health and welfare. The powerful points being raised within this community for the public defence of Okehampton Hospital Beds should ensure that options for its maintenance are considered, fully costed and presented to ultimate funders of Health Services to facilitate more rational, long-term planning.