More than 10,000 people have called for a county council debate into the drastic reduction in community beds in north Devon, which will hit care of elderly people.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 24 November), community activists, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, will deliver a petition of over 10,000 signatures to Devon county council calling on councillors to take action over the closure of community hospital beds.
Campaigners will be gathering at County Hall at Topsham Road, Exeter, Devon EX2 4QD at 13.00 tomorrow.
Over the last two years the bed numbers in north Devon has fallen from over 100 to just 40 now and this is being replicated across the county.
The petition calls for a debate at full council over the funding of rural hospital provision in Devon, as funding has failed to keep pace with need; parts of Devon have some of the biggest populations of over-50s in England.
The recent permanent closure of beds at Bideford and Ilfracombe hospitals leaves Barnstaple as the only major town in northern Devon to have a hospital with any beds.
Unite regional officer Mark Richards said: “The first step in the campaign is to persuade the Tory-controlled Devon county council to pressurise the government to make up the shortfall over inadequate funding for the NHS in rural areas.
“There needs to be more finance to ensure that the health and social care system in Devon works in a seamless fashion.
“These community beds are predominately occupied by elderly patients, who may be recovering from a fall, for example.
“Elderly people depend on having places to go to recuperate after health crises and need to be in acute care; now those places are being removed. Hospitals would lose all overnight inpatient beds.
“The lack of such beds raises serious concerns that care for patients sent back to their own homes will not be adequately resourced and would leave vulnerable, isolated people at serious risk of suffering health complications.”
Unite community activists in north Devon and Torridge will soon be launching a programme of support for people adversely affected by failures in care to support them in obtaining the care they deserve.
Unite activists will help people navigate the complex dividing line between social and NHS care, so that people receive the best care possible.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.