Anger over plans to close beds at Torbay Hospital

SOUTH Devon residents have reacted angrily to confirmation that 32 beds at Torbay Hospital are to be closed.

They have also started a petition to save the women’s ward McCallum which is rumoured to be under threat though Torbay and South Devon Healthcare Trust says no decisions have been taken to close any wards. There are also rumours about the future of the maternity unit though health bosses say no decision has been taken.

However they have confirmed that after the decision to close four South Devon community hospitals with the loss of 44 beds, the time was ‘now right’ to plan to close 32 acute beds at Torbay Hospital as they are supporting more people in the community and require less beds, and have put increased investment into the community services such as intermediate care services and health and wellbeing co-ordinators.

A petition has been setup to ‘save’ McCallum ward (see details below) and there has been strong reaction on the Herald Express Facebook page.

Torbay MP Kevin Foster has asked for a meeting with health chiefs over the latest proposals. He said the closure of beds at Torbay Hospital was not discussed at the public meeting he attended regarding Paignton Hospital.

There are also fears about the future of maternity services and the closure of wards at Torbay Hospital under a county-wide review of services.

A review of maternity services across all of Devon began last November and there will be a series of public meetings in March, before a decision in the summer. Children’s services and neo-natal are also being reviewed.

It is feared specialist maternity and baby care will be centralised in Plymouth, with cutbacks at Torbay as the NHS in Devon faces a £50million black hole this year, although health chiefs say there are no formal proposals so far.

Staff have now received emails about possible ward closures and there are rumours that Torbay’s McCallum Ward, a women’s gynaecology unit, is one of the units under threat

It comes after the loss of 44 beds with the closure of community hospitals in Paignton, Dartmouth, Bovey Tracey and Ashburton.

Torbay Hospital’s chief operating officer Liz Davenport confirmed earlier this week that a decision will be taken by the end of February on the 32 acute beds and closures will start to come into effect before April.

A spokesman for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust confirmed they are reviewing maternity: “We have real recruitment and retention challenges. We are also looking at children’s and neonatal services.”

Doctors, midwives, nurses and the unions were all involved in a series of workshops.The spokesman described over-worked doctors and nurses as inspirational: “But they cannot simply work harder and harder to keep services going. Change has to happen if we are to maintain the safety and quality of care in future, and we need to address the issues we currently face in a way that will improve outcomes for individuals and the communities we serve, as well as our staff.

“We will be holding a series of public meetings in March.”

The spokesman said they knew there would be concerns about patients having to travel further: “We will listen to people’s views and provide feedback to the clinicians leading the review. Only then will we start to develop proposals and recommendations for future services. We do not expect this to be before summer 2017.”

The Wider Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan is available in full of the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group website.

NHS acute services across Devon are being considered for restructuring including maternity, paediatrics and neonatology and stroke care.

Emergency and urgent care were also identified for urgent review.

Health service chiefs have warned the financial black hole could reach £305million across Devon for 2020/21.

Health and care organisations and local authorities across the county are drawing up a five year vision for the future of the county’s health services.


Lucy Cromwell, originally from Chudleigh Knighton, has set up a petition to try and save the McCallum ward at Torbay hospital. On Wednesday afternoon it had more than 400 signatures.

She said: “It’s the only womans ward/ unit within Torbay . Woman who may have suffered the loss of a baby, a hysterectomy, ectopic pregnancies, endometriosis, women recovering from a mastectomy – these are just a couple of examples of the patients that need care to get back on there feet. The staff on the ward are compassionate hard working and do everything to support there patients Some of the staff on the ward have been working together for 20 + years they are an amazing team.

“I’m asking for just a signature from you to keep this ward open for future woman, they have compassion, support and always there with an ear at some of your lowest points. I’ve been a patient in and out for the last 9 years facing my own health problems this ward has enabled me to meet people with the same condition as me as well as many others who have there own problems.

“The ward has only two side rooms that also can be used to help mothers with new borns who are poorly themselves so the baby can stay with the mother. This will also not happen on a general ward.

“If the ward it’s to be shut down there won’t be a replacement, all patients will be scattered over different wards who maybe have never had to deal with such sensitive subjects along with it also being a mixed male and female ward. “

Margaret Forbes-Hamilton, chair of Torre and Upton community partnership has supported the petition.

She said: “I hope you have been following the news about the closure of acute beds at Torbay Hospital and the threat to McCallum Ward. For this to be happening on top of the proposed closure of Paignton Hospital is unbelievable.

“I have received excellent care there, and I am sure that many of you have friends and family in the same situation.”



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