Health Secretary asked to ring-fence ‘red line’ services at North Devon District Hospital

North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble

North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant

Letter to Jeremy Hunt calls for assurances as petitions urging the protection of services attract thousands of signatures.

Brian Greenslade. Picture: Andy Keeble

Brian Greenslade. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant

The Government is being asked to step in and give assurances about the future of key health services in North Devon.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said all options were being considered as part of a major review of services being carried out to help plug a predicted funding shortfall of £442million by 2020.

But petitions asking the Government to ring-fence A&E, maternity, stroke, paediatric and other acute services at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) are gathering pace.

North Devon District councillor Brian Greenslade has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to voice his concerns and ask for assurances that key services would remain at North Devon District Hospital.

Mr Greenslade’s letter to Mr Hunt said the retention of acute services at NDDH were ‘red lines’ and that public concern was ‘understandable’.

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His letter said: “North Devon and its population are very vulnerable especially if such key medical services are withdrawn from the NDDH.

“For many people in Northern Devon and North Cornwall the distance to alternative A&E facilities at Exeter and Taunton is more than 50 miles.

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“I know you will appreciate the immense value of the ‘golden hour’ when responding to patient needs in respect of A&E, maternity and stroke services.

“Should these services be closed in North Devon helicopter responses from North Devon to the Exeter or Taunton hospitals will become routine.

“Given the very recent closure of the RAF search and rescue base at Chivenor in North Devon, helicopter emergency response is now based solely on the excellent Devon Air Ambulance and SAR Helicopters operating from South Wales.

“I would urge you to make it clear that the North Devon District Hospital will continue to provide A&E, maternity and stroke services into the future.

“If this clear statement is not given now the attempts to implement your ‘Success Regime’ project will be rendered useless.”

Mr Greenslade told the Gazette: “I have been surprised at the number of people who have made contact with me expressing concern, hence my letter to Jeremy Hunt.

“My Lib Dem councillor colleagues and I are launching an on line petition asking people to sign up in support of these ‘red line’ services remaining in North Devon.”

Meanwhile, a similar petition set up last week had already attracted more than 4,200 signatures as the Gazette went to press yesterday (Tuesday).

The ‘Stop North Devon District Hospital possible closures of essential services’ petition needs 10,000 signatures to trigger a government response.

At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

To view the petition, click here.

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