Residents voice opinions against beds closure at Torrington Hospital
MORE than 100 people turned out to the Plough Arts Centre yesterday to fight against plans to close hospital beds at Torrington Hospital.
‘Empty words, empty beds’ was the message to North Devon health bosses from the dozens of residents who had gathered inside the Plough to voice their opinions.
After a heated question and answer session, in which the community united in wanting to keep beds open at the cottage hospital, residents unanimously voted to having no confidence in the suggested care in the community scheme.
It comes after Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) said ten beds at the hospital, situated on Calf Street, could be replaced with community care.
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Dave Clinch, a retired schoolteacher from Torrington, said “care should be based on need not profit”.
The 62-year-old said: “This is about massive cuts in the health service and we need to maintain care at our home facilities and at the hospital too.
“We need to maintain our national health service as a public service not as a privatised institution, which is what this is all about.”
Yesterday's public meeting was the second to be held this week by held by NDHT and the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Derek Jewell, 69, from Torrington, said the situation had been handled “shambolically” by NDHT.
He said: “It has been a complete and utter shambles. One minute they’re closing the beds, the next minute they are keeping them open for an evaluation period.
“The consultation is a sham and our questions haven’t been answered directly.
“When this, as it will surely do, fails and someone dies through this new system, I hope these bosses will resign from their positions.”
Ten beds at the hospital are currently closed and are expected to reopen, and be staffed 24/7, in early October.
One they reopen, an eight-week consultation will commence and afterwards NDHT will assess whether the beds should be closed permanently.
During the meeting Dr Chris Bowman, vice chairman of the Northern Locality of the CCG, suggested the trust could look into using beds at a care home in future if beds at Torrington hospital get permanently closed.
He said: “The costs per bed per day are cheaper in care homes than in hospital”.
However, he also categorically denied there were any plans to close the entire hospital.
He said: “The reason for the evaluation is to decide if we need the beds. We are not closing the hospital.
“We are trying to do the best for the greatest number of people. There is the reality that there’s less money in the system. If we don’t do anything we will run into financial crisis.
“We want to ensure individuals get care. I’m not so concerned where it’s delivered but I’m concerned about the level of care.”
However, Anne Tattersall, a former mayor of Torrington, raised a cheer from the crowd when she told the panel: “This is no more than a PR exercise costing taxpayer’s money.
“The whole thing has been orchestrated and you’re trying to pull the wool over our eyes”.
Drop-in sessions will now be held over the coming weeks to allow members of the local community to have their say on Torrington Hospital.
Sessions will be held every Friday, from 10am, between now and November. For a full list of drop-in sessions visit www.torringtoncares.co.uk.