Public meetings: only the start of the conversation about Torrington

The Northern Devon Healthcare Trust and NEW Devon CCG have completed the first part of the early engagement work on the test of change for Torrington community health services.

We have been having on-going meetings and conversations with the local community at the weekly drop-ins since 2 August. On average, at least 12 people have turned up to each one. We also held two public meetings, to which at least 100 people came.

These meetings allowed us to explain our plans and hear the concerns over the proposals to temporarily close the inpatient beds during the test of change. They have also provided an opportunity to reassure people about the whole range of services currently available to residents and dispel some myths.

Kate Lyons, Director of Operations, NDHT said, “We have been very encouraged by the raft of ideas received from the public about new services they would like to see offered from the hospital. These ideas include exercise classes, use by the voluntary sector and local groups, social events and more NHS services such as outpatient clinics, ear, nose and throat, dermatology, sexual health services and leg ulcer clinics.”

Preparations are now under way to launch the consultation and involvement exercise, which will start in early October and focus on the best use of the hospital building in the longer term.

Plans are progressing well to reopen inpatient beds at Torrington Community Hospital. This reopening will co-incide with the beginning of the involvement exercise. Both models of care will be evaluated – the use of inpatient beds and the home-based community services – throughout the period.

Kate Lyons said, “We are committed to engaging fully with the local community about the project. In response to their request for a ‘safety net’, we agreed to reopen a number of beds. At the same time, we will be assessing a new model of care that focuses on supporting people to live safely and independently in their own homes.”

Throughout the eight weeks, the models will be evaluated and the next steps agreed.

Dr Chris Bowman, Vice Chair of the Northern Locality, CCG said, “As a clinician and commissioner, my priority is to ensure that the care people receive is safe, effective and ensures the best experience for patients. The actual location where care is delivered is of secondary importance.

“Whilst the concerns of the community are natural, I want to reassure people that the debate is about seeing whether the hospital beds are needed and whether we are using our resources to best meet the needs of as many people as possible.”

As the project progresses, the drop-ins will continue every Friday. The venue will alternate between Torrington and the communities of Greater Torrington to ensure the whole community have a chance to express an opinion and have their queries answered. Dates are on the website:

Dr Chris Bowman said, “I have been asked several times whether this is a ploy to close the hospital and that our minds are made up. This is not about closing the hospital.

“We see the potential of a building, in the heart of Torrington to offer more services not less. Whilst some people are still sceptical about a local healthcare service without beds, they can also see the value in putting in more clinics, more events, more classes and opening up the building so everyone can use it. This then starts to answer some of the other concerns about social isolation and transport difficulties we are hearing.”

Anyone who did not attend last week’s public engagement meetings can still get in touch by attending any of the weekly drop-in sessions available in Torrington and surrounding parishes.

People can also ask questions and make suggestions, or request a meeting, by contacting the CCG via:
Post: Faye Edlin, NEW Devon CCG, Crown Yealm House, Pathfields Business Park, South Molton, EX36 3LH
Phone: 01769 575100

The website contains all the information on the background to the project, including questions and answers and correspondence.

Release produced by:
Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust

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Last updated: March 6, 2018