Case for closure of Teignmouth hospital “not credible”

Press release 20 December 2020

Save Our Hospital Services

Case for closure of Teignmouth hospital ‘not credible’ says Devon CC Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee

A special Spotlight Review meeting took place on 14 December to consider Devon CCG’s recent consultation on closing services at Teignmouth Hospital. Its report to the CCG states:

“Members [of Devon CC Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee] do not believe that the consultation, from the evidence presented, offers a credible case for change that both clinicians and residents advocate.”

Proposals to close local hospital services have been vigorously resisted by Teignmouth, Shaldon and Bishopsteignton residents since they first emerged. There has been rising anger and disbelief at the conduct of Devon CCG in pursuing their preferred outcome. SOHS has supported Hands Off Teignmouth Hospital in their campaign. Working together, the two organisations have uncovered evidence that closure would have a negative effect on local healthcare in terms of bed numbers, clinic use, travel times, and joined-up working among care teams. We have even cast doubt on the claim that closure would save public money.

The Scrutiny Committee has considered a number of submissions from our organisations which we are now happy to make public. They agreed with us that the CCG’s consultation process was deeply flawed because:

The CCG heavily determined the questions for the survey (many of them closed) carried out by Healthwatch.

The online meetings were not set up to encourage inter-active conversation on the issues.

Patient experience does not feature in the evaluation of options process.

A key concern of many residents about the merits or demerits of rehabilitation within a hospital or care home setting were not presented.”

These last two points represent the first official challenge to the CCG’s ‘model of care’ that has seen nearly 500 community hospital beds closed. Through Freedom of Information requests, we have shown that research used to support bed closures did not investigate alternative models of care at all. We have shown that data has been used selectively to suggest that community hospital beds are not needed. We have obtained a report from the President of the Community Hospitals Association that says community hospital beds need investment alongside home-based care. And we have shown that emergency admissions of elderly patients, readmissions after discharge and delayed transfers of care – all signs that care in people’s own homes is not working well – have risen every year of the community hospital cuts.

Finally, it seems the Scrutiny Committee agrees with our analysis:

although the CCG has been rolling out this model in other parts of the County, there is no systematic evaluative research co-produced by clinicians, professionals, and service users that presents clear evidence of success (using both quantitative and qualitative methodology) to support this extensive change proposed. In conclusion, members do not believe that the consultation has convincingly supported the claim that the proposed changes are in the best interests of the health needs of the population in the area”.

We are happy to publish our evidence so that the press and the public can form their own conclusions. Meanwhile we hope the CCG will reconsider their plans. They should restore the much-needed rehabilitation beds to Teignmouth Hospital, retain its current clinics and services, and continue meeting the healthcare needs of local residents from the NHS hospital they know and cherish.

SOHS will continue to challenge the model of care across Devon, and to argue the urgent necessity for more hospital beds as our NHS struggles to cope with the worst public health crisis for a century.