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AXMINSTER: No intention to close hospital

Friday, 24 January 2014

There are no plans to close Axminster Hospital, but it might be managed by a private contractor in the not too distant future.
A 70-minute debate on the future of the hospital was held at Axminster Town Council on Monday of last week after a number of councillors had expressed concern about decreasing bed numbers and other matters.
Some time ago a now defunct NHS body awarded Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) a contract to run Axminster Hospital, which is said to run until 2016.
The defunct NHS body was replaced by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW) last year.
The budgeting process is further complicated by the fact that it also involves Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and NHS England.
Lots of pressure
Those at the meeting were told that the cost of providing health services is up by five per cent a year, but the amount of money available has not increased.
Tamara Powderley, a member of NEW’s Executive Team, attended the meeting, saying: “There are lots of pressures but we have no intention to close Axminster Hospital.
“We have a responsibility to meet demand and want to prioritise spending with local communities.
“We need to think about how to solve the problems.”
Councillors and members of the public present at the meeting were confused by the plethora of NHS organisations involved and town councillor Andrew Moulding asked: “Who makes decisions about Axminster Hospital?”
Mrs Powderley replied: “NEW will take those decisions, that’s the intention.”
She added that the bed reduction had happened before NEW took over.
Councillor Moulding asked: “If NDHT said ‘we can’t sustain this’, would you seek a private or other NHS organisation?”
Mrs Powderley replied: Correct, but we would first establish why there is a problem.”
Local GP James Vann entered the fray by proclaiming: “The problem is that the people [NDHT] running the hospital are extremely difficult, by far the most difficult group of managers we’ve ever had.
“They are extremely difficult to talk to. I’m waiting for responses from senior people from more than a month ago.
“They cut the beds. They think they save money but they never tell us what they have saved.”
He also said that NDHT claims the annual cost of running Axminster Hospital is £1.4 million.
Dr Vann added: “Is it really costing that much or are we subsidising something else”?
He stressed that he was expressing a personal view.
In a reply sent to Pulman’s View after the meeting, NDHT chief executive Jac Kelly said: “The correspondence we have received from Axminster Medical Practice, which we have since responded to, relates to the income the practice has been in a position to earn over the past three financial years based on the number of beds available at the hospital.
“We have no record of any queries relating to the costs involved in running the hospital.
“Clearly, the costs involved can change depending on the services provided.”
Town councillors resolved to contact their counterparts in Seaton with a view to work out how hospital services in Axe Valley can be developed.
It was also decided to invite NDHT bosses for talks.
NDHT chief executive Kelly told Pulman’s View: “The trust would be happy to attend a future town council meeting to discuss matters relating to the hospital, but we do not feel it would be an appropriate forum to debate the medical practice’s income.”


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