Public meeting themes

The changes in Dartmouth resulted from a consultation held in partnership with our Clinical Commissioning Group in 2016. For more information on the proposals and feedback, visit the South Devon and Torbay CCG website. Also see: Consultation summary moor to sea poster.

Themes from the public meeting in Dartmouth (May 2018)

Click on the headings to view the responses.

The decision to close the hospital was taken by the Trust and CCG following a full public engagement and consultation programme in 2016.

Whilst it was much-loved by many, Dartmouth Hospital was built to meet the health needs of a bygone age. The engineering infrastructure in the hospital was at the end of its economic life and requires wholesale replacement. The room sizes and current layout coupled with the age of the building, especially the old Seaman’s Mission part, cannot be sufficiently structurally remodelled to create the appropriate spaces required to deliver modern services.

During the last full year of operation as a hospital (15/16) the cost of maintenance, heating and lighting and cleaning was nearly £500,000. Had it been decided to continue to run the hospital not only would it have severely limited the flexibility of the services, it would also have meant valuable resources being spent on maintaining an old building.

All of this resource has been reinvested in providing care for local people so that they are able to live their lives as independently as possible at home. The money that will be received from the sale of the hospital will also be re-invested into the Trust’s capital programme to deliver new modern facilities such as the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Dartmouth.

We have increased our range of outpatient services from Dartmouth Clinic, saving many people the need for a trip to Torbay Hospital.

Services in Dartmouth

There are a full range of services available for the people of Dartmouth the surrounding area at the Dartmouth Clinic. This includes:

  • Audiology
  • Bladder and Bowel Clinic
  • Community Therapy Team
  • Counselling
  • Depression and Anxiety Services
  • District Nursing Team
  • Ear, Nose and throat
  • Heart Failure Clinic
  • Lower Limb Therapy Clinic
  • Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
  • Paediatric Clinic
  • Podiatry

In addition there are a number of ad hoc clinics.

We have extra community nursing and therapy support in Dartmouth, as well as better access to pharmacists, equipment and re-ablement teams, and these services are working well. Our Health and Wellbeing team, who currently work from Dartmouth Clinic, co-ordinate a range of services (including from Dartmouth Caring) that support people’s wellbeing and reduce social isolation. This is at the heart of what we are trying to do: providing tailored services in response to an individual’s circumstances, rather than just focussing on their illness or medical condition.

All the functions of the Health and Wellbeing Centre are already up and running in Dartmouth and we now need to co-locate them, with GPs, in a purpose-built centre.

By focussing resources on supporting people at home it is not only better for them it also allows us to support many more people than we could in hospital beds. We know that, taken together, all these services offer a greater breadth of support for local people than when we were investing our resources in maintaining an 18-bedded community hospital in the town.

We are committed to ensuring the right level of intermediate care beds in Dartmouth and based on experience and usage when we carried out our consultation in 2016, we identified that four beds would be required and said that we would commission these in local nursing and care homes. However, in the past year, since we have been providing more intensive support to people in their own homes, data indicates that on average we require up to two beds at any one time for people from Dartmouth and the surrounding area. By commissioning beds with care homes we have flexibility to allow for more or fewer beds, reflecting actual need. We currently meet local needs by commissioning beds at Beacon Court in Dartmouth .

It is also important that if someone does need a hospital bed for a medical reason they can access one and through Totnes and Torbay hospitals we believe there is good provision.

Dartmouth Medical Practice has openly given support to the development of an integrated Health and Well-being Centre that primary care would be a key part of.

This is a recent statement from them:

“Dartmouth Medical Practice remains committed to pursuing a purpose built, up to date health facility in the town from which to provide appropriate health services to the residents of Dartmouth and surrounding villages. We very much support the primary aim of the Health and Wellbeing Centre and believe that working within the same building as our colleagues from secondary care, social services and the voluntary sector is very much in the interests of our patients in a rural community given the direction of travel nationally and a move away from community hospitals. We will work with the trust in the planning stages of the new development as we scope the suitability of any new potential premises.”

A full Minor Injury Service is provided in Totnes and Torbay from 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week and is supported by an increased x-ray service at Totnes Monday – Friday from 9am – 1pm and at Newton Abbot 9- 5pm 7 days a week. In addition minor injury care can also be accessed at Dartmouth Medical Centre during practice opening times where patients can phone and get an appointment with the nurse or be directed as appropriate to one of the minor injury services or the Emergency Department if further investigations or specialist treatment is required.

We fully understand local concerns about accessing emergency care quickly. Clearly Dartmouth is rurally located and a long way from the nearest major emergency department at Torbay hospital which is also where the main ambulance station is. To ensure access is as quick as possible, the ambulance service (SWASFT) operate a “nearest available” system so that the highest priority incidents are responded to as quickly as possible. But we know response times are longer than we would like with currently just over 60% meeting the targets.

The CCG has been working closely with the South West ambulance trust (SWASFT) over many years to improve ambulance services, and Dartmouth has been a particular focus. A significant piece of work is currently underway to look at how the system is working, from initial call-taking to providing life-saving care. The CCG (along with the other 11 CCGs who jointly commission SWASFT) is committed to an improvement plan that will address how the service can improve for all areas. Whilst there is no quick fix to improving ambulance response times to Dartmouth to the level that the CCG or Dartmouth residents want, with the work underway improvements should begin to make a real difference.

We know that good, reliable domiciliary care is very important in helping people to live independently at home. We have a partnership with Mears Care Ltd to provide domiciliary care across our area and we believe there has been a significant improvement in the care provided. We work with them to ensure we offer competitive rates of pay, as well as providing training and development for their staff. Mears have negotiated a further block contract for the provision of care to specifically meet the needs of local people. This additional support started on 4 June, at 80 hours a week and increasing to 300 hours a week. This will be available for the Dartmouth area and will cover the needs of all the care packages we currently provide in the area.

We recognise that the way we have engaged in the past has not always met the needs of the people of Dartmouth. To address this and build confidence and trust we know we need to improve how we do this.

We will:

  • step up our work with community and elected representatives and seek advice from the community and its leaders on how best to do this.
  • strengthen our work with Dartmouth Together Partnership (chaired by Nick Hindmarsh, of Dartmouth Caring)
  • share progress updates openly, through our website and through the Dartmouth Chronicle.
  • organise an event in September, once the strategic estates partner is in place, so we can involve people in the design of the new Health and Well Being Centre so that it best meets local needs.
  • continue to produce a monthly e-newsletter, containing updates about service changes across Torbay and South Devon, including Dartmouth.

We are continuing to engage with local people and keeping them up to date with developments. We are holding a family open day at Dartmouth Clinic from 10am – 2pm on Saturday 29 September.

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