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2013 The Future for Health in Sidmouth: report

Roundtable meeting – Tuesday 26th November 2013


Futures Forum of the Vision Group for Sidmouth


The Futures Forum Chair, Robert Crick, welcomed guest speakers to an informal round-table meeting to consider the future for health in Sidmouth.

Sue Cutting [Eastern Locality Urgent Care Programme Lead; Deputy Head of Commissioning for the Clinical Commissioning Group (part of the Northern, Eastern & Westerly Locality – or NEW Devon CCG) aka Wakley] felt that engagement with the public was key to the commissioning role of what is the country’s largest CCG – and with new challenges being faced, for example Sidmouth’s ageing population now above the Devon norm, it was vital to address people’s needs and to engage with the public.

Geoff Butler [Lay Member of the Wakley sub-Locality of the CCG] made it clear that, as the first point of contact with the CCG, his role was to ensure that the views of patients were championed at this level when ‘commissioning’ or contracting out services in the NHS.

Graham Vincent [Chair of the Comforts Fund of the Sidmouth Victoria Hospital] outlined the five stages of work on upgrading the hospital since 1989, with the final Stage Five scheduled for completion in June 2014, entailing new physiotherapy facilities, single wards and a day-case surgery.

Di Fuller [Chair of the Sid Valley Patients Participation Group (PPG), the re-named patients’ forum] stated that the role of the PPG was to act as a conduit between doctors and patients, by determining views and providing information – for example, a two-week questionnaire completed by 750 patients, with the outcome of plans to refurbish the Sid Valley practice, and the recent open meeting showing the way forward to the new centre at Stowford due to open in April 2015.

Mark McGlade [Chair of the Budleigh PPG; Member of the WEB Health & Social Care Team; Board Member of the DCC Devon Dementia Care & Support Partnership; Managing Director of Home Instead Senior Care, Budleigh] stated that 25% of patients at the RD&E Hospital suffer from dementia and yet their home-care is often unclear at discharge – however, the new CCG should enable the NHS and Social Services to work together, with the nationwide Dementia-Friendly towns campaign gathering pace following Torbay in 2009 and the example of Budleigh hospital becoming a ‘Community Hub’ with an emphasis on well-being.

Ian Skinner [Chair of the Health & Social Well-being Board which covers part of Wakley] laid out the work of the Board, linked to the CCG: it helps to monitor and gather information about care in the community and includes groups chaired by Cllr Drew, concerned with the working-age population, and Andrew Stevens, whose report on the elderly has been accepted by the Town Council.

Shiobhan Pickering [Sidmouth Community Matron for dementia] echoed concerns that, whilst there is no care home catering specifically for dementia sufferers in Sidmouth, provision should also be made to ensure there is a future for younger people – who will be the carers of the future.

Gordon Read [Member of Exeter Locality PPG, attending NEW Devon CCG meetings; Member of the ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ campaign] felt that the PPG, as conduit between doctors and patients, were natural allies in preserving the NHS; and that the CCG was doing an excellent job in trying to embed patients’ voices within the NHS, together with the welcome appointment of Lay Members.

Angela Lambert [Member of the 38 degrees NHS campaign] also felt very positive about local developments.

Dr Mike Slot [Sid Valley Practice] arrived later and contributed to the discussion.

Cllr Francis Newth [Chair, Sid Valley Volunteer Services Committee] echoed concerns about catering for isolated and lonely elderly Sidmouthians, whom the SVS worked with closely.


The session then resumed with questions and exchange with members of the public:

Di Fuller was concerned that many groups were paying lip service to patient representation and that more patients, and especially younger people, should be involved. Geoff Butler replied that Lay Members were indeed trying to contact these groups.

Tony Gold pointed to an apparent contraction between dementia care in the home and institutionalising dementia sufferers. Dr Mike Slot responded by stating that the former Stowford dementia centre could be bought by the Partnership Trust to act as a hub and that he hoped there would be more facilities to give carers some respite. Paul Whitehead pointed to the new hub in Budleigh which was cutting new ground – and Mark McGlade reiterated that this offered both dementia sufferers and their carers a facility ‘fit for purpose’.

Michael Brittain pointed to the predicted increase in demand in Sidmouth, especially for physiotherapy facilities – and was reassured by Graham Vincent that the Phase 5 agreed to with the then-North Devon NHS Trust had laid down certain conditions, including provision of enough properly-trained staff to service the new facility, although he looked forward to new projects once this Phase was completed.

Concerns about how Lay Members of CCGs and PPGs simply ‘went along’ with the decisions of professional members of liaison groups were expressed, but Geoff Butler said they were unfounded. Dr Mike Slot agreed, saying that whilst the PPG had been supportive of the Sid Valley Practice, it had always been questioning and challenging – as having the lay perspective was very important. Di Fuller reiterated that members of the public were welcome to become involved in the PPG.

Whilst information can be obtained from the Library, Practice and Hospital, the importance of social networking for younger people was brought up – and the usefulness of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service website, amongst others.


Sue Cutting said that despite the pressures and budgetary constraints, it was the doctors who were leading the commissioning.

Geoff Butler concurred that the medical practitioners were trying to get the best they could.

Graham Vincent felt that a well-educated public – whether with regard to diet, exercise or preventive medicine – would become more responsible for their own well-being.

Di Fuller said that forums offered the opportunity for all members of the public to discuss issues – but it remained a challenge as to how to engage the young.

Mark McGlade concluded by saying that the CCGs presented an opportunity to build services; it was clear that the CCG and Commissioners  wanted to reach out to the patient groups and engage on how to spend public funds.

Ian Skinner outlined a vision for health and social care working in tandem: firstly, with Victoria Hospital patients expecting a complete package of home care on release and, secondly, by forging links between local trusts and Devon County when commissioning services from the CCG – for all of Sidmouth’s populace, as there was a need for an overview of all the facilities available, with one group leading for the whole of Sidmouth.

For further information please go to:

Or contact: Contact – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Jeremy Woodward

Futures Forum, Vision Group for Sidmouth

November 2013