Meeting reveals consultation on community services in October with one for acute services in spring next year

A time table of sorts has emerged for proposed changes to North Devon's NHS services at a meeting today (Monday).

The Health and Wellbeing Committee of Devon County Council heard presentations from Success Regime chairman Dame Ruth Carnall and chief executive Alison Pedder.

The council chamber was packed with anti cuts campaigners, many of whom had travelled by coach from North Devon to be at the meeting.

Angela Pedder said a 'Your Future Care' consultation based on community care will go before the North, East and West (NEW) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) board on September 28.

Subject to approval it will go out for public consultation for 12 weeks from October 7.

She said proposals around changes to the number of beds would be largely focussed on East Devon.

It was claimed every day 600 people across Devon were in a hospital be when they didn't need to be there and the emphasis needed to be on care closer to home.

Work looking at acute specialist services across the area will start in October, engaging with patients, public and clinicians, with proposals developed to bring to public consultation sometime next year, probably in April or May.

The Sustainability and Transformation (STP) plan proposals will be based on a broader framework for the NHS locally for the next five years and will not give specifics at this stage, she said.

"We have to achieve both clinical and financial sustainability for the population of Devon," said Ms Pedder.

"We have to address the inequalities we know we have. Our mental health services are not good; we need to find a way of resolving that, alongside the other changes we need to make.

"I would have preferred us to be able to discuss the STP without it being a leaked document, but we can't do that.

"It's really important that this is part of a wider discussion that we need to have with people across out communities about how we shape services so that it is fit for our population.

"We need to change, we need to have difficult conversations with the public and population generally to get to a place where we are both clinically and financially sustainable."

Committee chairman Richard Westlake said: "This whole process and the leaked document have upset a lot of people and a lot of people have said it has been shambolic.

"Instead of having a clear vision to go out to consultation we are getting bits here and bits there."

Barnstaple councillor Brian Greenslade asked if they would even have been having the discussion if the STP document had not been leaked and said the issue was about fairer funding for our area.

After the meeting he said: "I think it's very simple, there was nothing really new that came out today and it's clear a number of colleagues agreed with me that the issue is about fair funding of services.

"Unless we get that sorted out these cuts will happen, so we need to be banging on the government's door."