Commissioning group ‘surprised’ to learn of ‘permanent’ closure of beds at Ilfracombe’s Tyrrell Hospital

The left and right hands of North Devon's health service appear to have fallen into conflict over the future of community hospital beds.

In a statement the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group said a recent meeting organised by Northern Devon Healthcare Trust was not focussed on its 'care closer to home' vision, but instead on ways to run the service in the most cost effective way.

As a result the CCG withdrew from the meeting, and arranged to consult with Friends groups and other organisations on which beds might close at Bideford, South Molton and Holsworthy.

The beds at Ilfracombe's Tyrrell Hospital were declared not 'viable' by the trust because it said it would cost £2.5million to refurbish.

But the CCG said it was 'surprised' to learn NDHT planned to close the beds there permanently.

The CCG had announced its intention to cut bed numbers and see more people cared for in their own homes, but it questioned how the trust could get these community services ready in the proposed six week time scale.

In a statement the CCG said: "The decision at the CCG Northern Locality Board in May to commission 40 community hospital inpatient beds in future was taken on the understanding resources needed to be redirected to ensure patients are supported by a safe and sustainable community service; to include nursing, therapy, social care and primary care services.

"We do not feel that NDHT can provide the necessary assurance that the community services would be ready for the additional patients in the six week timescale it has proposed."

It said it supported the trust's need to consult, but had withdrawn from the meeting because it wanted to avoid confusing the cost effective approach with its own plans for rebalancing community services.

But NDHT said it was constrained by a financial time period, whereas the CCG's process was ongoing. In a statement, it said: "The CCG feels it is clearer for stakeholders and the public if we separate our two processes, and we must respect its point of view and decision.

"The information gleaned from the consultation will be presented to the trust board at its meeting on October 6 so it can make an informed decision in time to implement any changes prior to winter.

"It will take around four weeks to implement any changes, and we are therefore confident there is sufficient time to establish services that are both safe and effective, and within the budget derived from our contract settlement."

The CCG plans to discuss its concerns with the trust.