Last Tuesday, in Westminster Hall (the second Chamber of the House of Commons) I raised the very important issue that is the future of Teignmouth Hospital with the Minister for Health in open public debate. Built in 1954, Teignmouth Community Hospital was the first purpose-built NHS hospital in the country and has played a central role in the health and wellbeing of the community ever since. The community have continued, to their enormous credit, to support it physically and financially providing it, most recently, with a state-of-the-art physiotherapy rehabilitation unit.
Clearly there is a need for health and care provision to continually adapt to incorporate advances in medicines and technologies to meet the needs of the local community. However, three consultations, starting in 2015, on the future of healthcare in Dawlish and Teignmouth have resulted in the loss of all beds in that hospital including the 12 promised rehabilitation beds - that just never arrived. At no point has there been a consultation on the closure of the hospital itself (or even the non-arrival of the 12 rehab beds) – but closure is exactly what is happening. While the new Health & Wellbeing Centre to be located on Brunswick Street, which has resulted is welcome, that cannot be at the expense of the quantity and quality of healthcare provided to the residents of Teignmouth.
The proposal in the consultation on this new “hub” will result in the closure of Teignmouth Hospital having relocated all services either to the hub or to Dawlish Hospital. Looking at the plans for Dawlish and the new hub, and with little evidence and no analysis of its adequacy, I cannot see how the conclusion to close the hospital as stated in the latest consultation can be justified. There are no nursing care homes in Teignmouth. Teignmouth hospital was the only bed-based facility in the community. The new health plan for the area assumes that every patient not in need of urgent hospital care can be cared for at home. Really? Distance, lack of transport infrastructure, inadequate supply of domiciliary care – and the increasing rehabilitation need that Covid 19 will bring – seem to have been totally discounted.
Devon County Council Health & Adult Care Scrutiny Committee share many of my concerns and wrote to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for an informal review of the situation. The response was “unhelpful” at best. Only a formal referral will require this issue to be given proper and urgent attention and I sincerely hope that the Committee, when it meets again this week, will refer it formally. At the heart of this is the critical question – has due process been followed to close a hospital – without any consultation. The panel cannot give an opinion on the strength of the clinical argument, all they can look at is process. It must be manifestly obvious that this is a not very subtle attempt to mask a hospital closure in a process labelled as a service reconfiguration. Due process has not been followed.
My ask of the Secretary of State is simple:
- Intervene to stop this automatic closure of Teignmouth Hospital - with no consultation and no proper analysis or evidence of the impact that would have on the health and care outcomes for Teignmouth residents.
- Instruct the IRP that no closure of any hospital or facility should be made directly or indirectly, without the impacts of Covid-19 and long Covid having been taken into account and proper impact assessments having been made.
- Instruct NHS South West to require the CCG to run a separate consultation specifically on the closure of Teignmouth Hospital, collecting and using new up-to-date data, including on patient experience of those cared for at home, on the impact of the increasing demands being put on Dawlish Hospital and on the adequacy of the new hub at Teignmouth that is currently missing.
The people of Teignmouth and Teignmouth Hospital deserve better!