‘We have won the first battle’ say North Devon health campaigners

People from North Devon joined hundreds of thousands of people in London on Saturday to campaign aga

People from North Devon joined hundreds of thousands of people in London on Saturday to campaign against austerity cuts to hospitals. Picture: Graham Hobbs - Credit: Archant

Campaigners to save services at North Devon District Hospital have welcomed the revelation of the STP results, but say ‘the devil will be in the detail’.

North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple

North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple - Credit: Archant

Health campaigners are celebrating an ‘excellent’ result after it was revealed this morning North Devon District Hospital would not lose stroke, A&E and maternity services.

The long-awaited STP results were announced this morning, after a review into Devon’s acute health services.

Ian Williams, of Save Our Hospital Services (SOHS), said: “An excellent initial result and vindication of the SOHS team in establishing the isolation issue for North Devon.

“As with all these points, the devil will be in the detail.

“Many of the cuts have already been implemented: GPs not referring to hospitals if at all possible; closure of community hospitals; and the very much unproven Care at Home principle that has been claimed to be a success.

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“DCC are not geared up or funded to cover the Social Aspects and where does clinical care and monitoring fit in?

“We have won the first battle but the new proposals rely on additional docs being available to supplement our local docs.”

READ MORE: Health review says stroke, A&E and maternity services will stay in Barnstaple

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A statement from the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, reviewed the results of the STP.

It said around-the-clock A&E would remain in Barnstaple, Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay, as well as consultant-led maternity services and first-line treatment for strokes.

There had been fears in North Devon that key services would be cut, leading to loss of life if patients had to travel to Exeter or Plymouth.

Barnstaple County Councillor Brian Greenslade, a member of the Devon Health Scrutiny Committee, has welcomed the acute service review statement.

He said: “This is a tremendous reward for all the campaigning done by the community over the implied threat to these key acute services, in particular thanks to the umbrella organisation SOHS.

“I have used my position as a member of the Devon Health Scrutiny Committee to fight the corner as well as writing to the Prime Minister, health secretary and chief executive of NHS England about our concerns.

“It appears at the headline, it’s so far so good.

“However we must carefully examine the detail to ensure that the headline delivers the same level of acute services we have had up to now in North Devon and services are not allowed to wither on the vine.”

READ MORE: Hundreds join hospital ‘red line’ demos around Devon

Leader of North Devon Council Des Brailey said: “North Devon Council is extremely happy and relieved that key services are recommended to be retained in North Devon.

“My council has made repeated representations to the NHS on the importance and fairness of providing good access to essential health services for our community.

“We will continue to lobby the NHS to ensure these proposals are put in place, accepting that there are challenges regarding staffing and controlling costs.

“This is good news for our community who, with us are understandably concerned about any changes to health care in North Devon.

“I am also very grateful for the work of our local MP Peter Heaton-Jones, who personally interviewed and invited key individuals to North Devon.”

And Mr Heaton-Jones also hailed the outcome as a success, but said there was a ‘challenge’ ahead.

He said: “While I welcome the outcome of this review, it says there is a challenge now to ensure we have the necessary staffing and clinical expertise in Barnstaple to deliver these services sustainably.

“I have today spoken to the chief executive of Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and made clear that I want to be kept informed of progress in this regard.”

And on our Facebook page, the news has been welcomed by positive reactions from readers.

Emjay Edgy said: “Thank goodness for common sense! Hope this decision is final.”

Sue Guppy added: “Some sense at last! So relieved for all who live in the area!”

And Claire Bear Bink said: “Good news :) but can’t believe it was even a consideration in the first place.”

But others were a little more wary. Kathryn Andrew said: “Hate to be a party pooper but this is stage 1, plenty of opportunity to change...really hope their decision stays though.”

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