MP Peter Heaton-Jones said he was ‘alarmed’ by reports of acute services cuts in North Devon, and says the region has ‘a fight on its hands’.
Peter Heaton-Jones said North Devon has ‘a fight on its hands’ to retain the maternity Unit at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH).
And North Devon’s MP said he was ‘alarmed’ by reports that other acute services - including paediatrics, neonatology, cardiovascular and stroke service – could move to Plymouth and Exeter.
Mr Heaton-Jones has issued a statement in the wake of a leaked draft Sustainability and Transformation (STP) plan, which also outlines a vision to cut nearly 600 acute hospital beds in the county.
Mr Heaton-Jones said: “I have always said that any reduction in the A and E provision in Barnstaple is unacceptable, so I am pleased that the document seems to say we have won that battle.
“However, we now have a fight on our hands to save the maternity unit at the NDDH.
“The document proposes there should be only two maternity units in the whole of Devon, both in the south. This is simply not good enough.
“Mothers in Lynton or Lynmouth, for example, cannot be expected to travel to Exeter or Plymouth to give birth.
“It’s another example of North Devon being treated as the poor relation, which has happened for decades.
“It’s also worrying that the future of the stroke unit in Barnstaple is still being reviewed, although the document indicates that this is being carried out under a separate process.
“In all these matters, local healthcare professionals are best placed to decide what’s best for local people, so I will be led by them. However, I am clear that we need to act now.”
Mr Heaton-Jones said he was seeking urgent meetings with the Health Minister, NHS England managers and regional health directors.
“I’m also meeting local NHS workers and patients, and will be speaking in the parliamentary debate next Wednesday,” he said.
“In addition I will work with other Devon MPs, because this document has implications across the county.
“The document stresses that this is a ‘work in progress’ and is not a final statement.
“Indeed I understand there will be no firm proposals before mid-October, and then a period of public consultation.
“However, I am not waiting. I will continue to press our case very strongly that North Devon is unique because of our geographical position and we will not accept any changes that reduce the provision of healthcare for local people.”
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