Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Where to go now after 
hospital beds shock

I HATE to say I told you so - but I’m sorry to say I told you so!

At no time during the months of delicate negotiations between campaigners trying to save inpatient beds at Axminster and the various and confusing NHS bodies did I feel there was any hope of saving the beds.

When the cash-strapped  NHS made the unbelievable decision to spend up to £75,000 by challenging a High Court order to prevent the transfer of beds to Seaton,  I  never thought there was any way they were going to maintain inpatient beds in Axminster.

I have the greatest respect for those on the League of Friends, a fantastic organisation which has done Axminster proud over many years, and the Axminster Hospital Action  Group, for the manner in which they have fought to retain the beds.

It has become clear that some of those meetings were extremely difficult but the Axminster campaigners maintained dignity throughout, conducting themselves in a professional manner and adopting a policy of working with the various groups to fund a solution.

There were occasions when I thought they were being too conciliatory but they were led to believe throughout that a solution was possible and even probable.

We now know that was not the case.

The case of the disappearing nurses has been explained, although I find it hard to believe, but no mention has been made of the promise at one of the Axminster public meetings that further consideration would be given to the catchment area that the hospital served. 

And the one issue which must surely be addressed at some time is how much has all this cost, especially in officer time,  when the NHS is haemorrhaging money.

As we are about to go to press, the CCG is hurriedly trying to issue a press release dismissing some of the claims made on these pages. We will, of course, publish their response.

It’s difficult to know where to go from here. Axminster, of course, is not the only hospital to be affected with Ottery also losing beds after an equally robust fight. And it looks like  some of the community hospitals in South Somerset also have a battle on their hands.

Efforts are being made to get our MPs to campaign for an inquiry into the whole sad debacle and some are putting great store in the fact that the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital could well be running the community hospitals by the end of the year.

However, that does not necessarily mean the beds will return.

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