As many of you will be aware, the consultation on health services in Teignmouth and Dawlish (Coastal Locality) is ongoing and will continue until 26 October. There are four proposals:
- To move high-use community clinics from Teignmouth Community Hospital to a Health and Wellbeing Centre in Teignmouth
- To move specialist outpatient clinics from Teignmouth Community Hospital to Dawlish Community Hospital, four miles away
- To move day case procedures from Teignmouth Community Hospital to Dawlish Community Hospital
- Continue with a model of community-based intermediate care, reversing the decision to establish 12 rehabilitation beds at Teignmouth Community Hospital
If these proposals are implemented, Teignmouth Hospital will be closed and sold to generate funds to invest in the local NHS.
First of all, let me put on record, that the new hub at Teignmouth bringing together some of the GP practices, the integrated services team, and the voluntary sector, is the right way forward. Our local primary care team are literally world leading exemplars of how to integrate services. However, this consultation is about much more than that. It’s about the future of Teignmouth Hospital on which there is to be no further consultation.
I have made my position very clear to the Clinical Commissioning Group and Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (which owns the hospital). The closure of Teignmouth Hospital cannot go ahead “automatically” immediately after the consultation for a number of practical and, I believe, legal reasons. Consultations are mandatory for significant reconfigurations like this. Breaking the consultation down into chunks over a number of years doesn’t change that. Bed closures have to be consulted on – the fact that the rehab beds were never put into the hospital does not change that.
Looking at the detail of the suggested movements of services, I am far from convinced that Dawlish Hospital has the capacity to simply take on these services in addition to those it already provides. No new consulting space is being created. The maternity room is being converted into two consulting rooms, while the existing consulting rooms are being converted into rooms to support minor day case surgery. It is also far from clear that the new hub can accommodate the volume anticipated in high use community clinics. There is no plan setting out what goes where.
Finally, and most importantly, much has changed since this proposal started. Much of the data is out of date and all of it is pre-Covid. The nightingale hospital provision only deals with those hospitalised which are the minority. There is as yet no new plan to deal with parallel running of infectious and non-infectious patients. There is no new care pathway in both primary and secondary care which shows how we can run in parallel elective non-infectious and non-elective infectious conditions.
There is time pressure to make a decision on the hub. Building work in Brunswick Street is planned to start in January next year. Torbay & South Devon Trust and Clinical Commissioners have stated that the future of the hub does not depend on the sale of Teignmouth Hospital. That being the case, go ahead with the hub but don’t close Teignmouth Hospital. Any consultation on closure - and there must be one – can only be based on a full review of healthcare needs for Dawlish and Teignmouth post Covid, and a full review of available care in the community. There are only two nursing care homes in Dawlish and none in Teignmouth. There is also a shortage of domiciliary care. Let’s see whether the hub and Dawlish can in practice cope with the demand these changes will impose on them. That is the time to consult, based on full knowledge of the facts.
I strongly encourage residents to take part in the consultation, details of which can be found - https://devonccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/current-projects/health-and-wellbeing-services-in-teignmouth-and-dawlish
As always, If you would like to book a surgery call to discuss any issues you may have, please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.