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Watch: Demonstrators march in their hundreds on North Devon District Hospital

PUBLISHED: 13:05 23 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:45 23 August 2016

An estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony Gussin

An estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony Gussin

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Update: Success Regime head responds as campaigners urge ‘no cuts to health services’ at the peaceful Red Line mass protest in Barnstaple

‘Cuts will cost lives’ was the message as hundreds of people took part in a ‘red line’ demonstration today (Tuesday) amid fears the axe could fall on North Devon’s health services.

Organised by Save North Devon’s Hospital Services, upwards of 500 people dressed in red gathered at Pilton Park in Barnstaple before marching on North Devon District Hospital.

A peaceful rally with speakers was held, filling every spare space at the hospital entrance.

They came out in force in response to the ongoing Success Regime Case for Change review of all local health services, which has prompted fears crucial services such as A and E, stroke and maternity could face cuts.

A statement by Angela Pedder, chief executive of the Success Regime, was released late this afternoon (Tuesday) and said a consultation would begin in the autumn. See below for her full statement.

Campaigners made speeches before a line of people bearing red ribbon – the ‘red line’ now made famous by health boss Dr Alison Diamond’s quote that there were ‘no red lines’ when it came to reviewing services.

Netti Pearson, one of the organisers, said the turn out had exceeded her expectations: “It’s fabulous and it just shows how much our community in North Devon and Torridge cares about our hospital,” she said.

“They are the heart of our community, we all need a hospital at some point in our lives. Our services are being cut, there’s no two ways about that – there will be some service cuts.”

An estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony Gussin An estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony Gussin

Speaker Ian Williams called on people to show their opposition to cuts by writing to their MP, local media or the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Phillip Wearne told the crowd: “What we say is every service is essential to somebody. We are accused of scaremongering, but who is scaremongering when they say there are no red lines?”

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones backed the marchers, by saying he was glad the region was standing up to say it wouldn’t accept any reduction in health service standards.

“That’s exactly the message I gave the head of the Success Regime, Angela Pedder, when I invited her to Barnstaple last week,” he said.

An estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony Gussin An estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony Gussin

“I told her that North Devon is a special case: the distance from everywhere else means we cannot be left without key services. In particular, I made it clear our A and E department is a ‘red line’ as far as I’m concerned.”

Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox said he had met with the secretary of state’s adviser and would also be meeting the Success Regime chief to make it clear there should be ‘non-negotiable red lines’ in any review.

“This review should have as its objective the real improvement of our local health care and I have put my views forcefully to those in charge, and will again leave them in no doubt, that I will vigorously resist any outcome that results in a deterioration of services in Torridge and Northern Devon,” he said.

“I have also emphasised the need for real and in-depth public consultation and it is vital that the experiences and views of local people should inform these plans. I urge everyone to get involved.”

Angela Pedder said:“We know local people care deeply about the services Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust provides and we thank them for their continued support.

“However, we’ve been very clear that the NHS in Devon is facing both clinical and financial sustainability challenges.

“The challenges faced are set out in our Case for Change document and all health organisations in Northern, Eastern and Western Devon are working together to improve care, provide more integrated and locally tailored services, and tackle the projected £100 million a year overspend.

“The team has been working closely, as part of the Success regime programme, with NHS leaders and GPs, as well as local public and patient representatives, to develop proposals on future options for local health and care services.

“The initial focus of our work is on how best to deliver integrated community services. This work has been based on work carried out under programmes such as Transforming Community Services and on the new model of care developed under this programme and others, and increasingly now being put in place across the county.

“More detail on our consultation, due to begin in the autumn, will be provided soon.

“Work on securing clinically and financially sustainable acute and specialist care will commence in the autumn.

“We know this is an anxious time for many people and we are sorry we cannot say more. What we do know is that there are 170,000 people in the catchment area who need access to high-quality acute services and this is being factored into the work we will undertake.

“In the meantime, NDHT’s staff continue to work hard to ensure their services are safe and high-quality, and that they run as efficiently as possible.

“NDHT is a high-performing trust with a leadership committed to ensuring that services are clinically and financially sustainable. It has led the way in integrating acute and community services and social care. Its emergency department was named as a top performer nationally against the four-hour accident and emergency waiting time standard in 2015/16, which shows it is seeing and treating people efficiently.”

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