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I am very glad to see in last week’s Mid Devon the wide, robust support for this hospital. It has served the people very well since very early in the 50s when Britain was on its ‘uppers’ after WW2.

Readers will know that I have been on the case for the Community Hospitals for years. I have spent thousands of hours in my retirement on this, both in South Devon, and Devon more widely – especially in its north. In spite of fact and logic, and along with other conscientious citizens, I have seen a fatal combination of the CCG and the Torbay ‘Trust’ closing 70% of these beds. As predicted, the inability to discharge patients promptly from Torbay when right to do so, and to exclude the best care to patients who can best be treated primarily by GPs in local hospitals, has been proven.

This has reflected a ‘neo-liberal’ ideology in the three main political parties. The idea is that ‘public’ is bad, and ‘private’ with so called competition, and privatisation, are good. For instance, a talk I gave in Totnes in 2007 was entitled ‘Your NHS: Going, going, gone.’ It was widely advertised and all those town councils where there were community hospitals were written to. 30 people turned up – mostly GP friends and their ex-nurse wives. There was one councillor. This was at the tail end of a Labour regime. For too many decades OUR NHS has been a political football and victim to political whim.

Readers who notice signals will have questioned why April 1stwas chosen as a calendar day for the launching of the Health and Social Care Bill in 2012. This was driven through with Lansley, now Baron Lansley. What ever was said ‘The NHS is Safe in Our Hands’ etc, the opposite was intended. This bill was not founded on professional knowledge and experience in our medical services. Instead there was major input from such as PWc, McKinsey et al.

For instance, the statutory duty of universal care was removed, and symbolically, the DGHs could use up to 49% of their beds for paying patients. I often say to the many I correspond with - ‘they laugh in our faces’. The ‘bureaucratisation’ of OUR NHS has been given further speed, after it was doubled at least, and at a stroke, from 1988 by Mrs Thatcher’s/Chicago School ‘Internal Market’. I reflect sadly that I was the only consultant at Torbay, as far as I know, who opposed that expensive convulsion publically and with all fact and energy. I could write a book, and will indeed do so once I have done my best re C19.

I ask the reader to look at what this Act has achieved, and its offspring the CCGs and the ‘Trusts’. All this whilst those who ‘fly desks’ in WW2 RAF words, now outnumber the medical staff numbers at Torbay – so I am told. Those readers with computers are able to read my website - or simply type ‘david halpin’ into their browser. Or phone me for a text on 01364 661115. Read the last long and open letter to the Torbay Trust, the Devon CCG’s chairman Dr Paul Johnson, and latterly to the Medical Director of the RD&E. This letter, which includes the political background, and very personal details, had to be written because of my concern at rock bottom standards of care. 8 cases are listed. I could cite another 8, and another – immediately. The reader will be heartened to know that Case 1 – the most abysmal example, was taken up to UCL to see a kindly, top orthopaedic surgeon. She is greatly relieved and will shortly have the first stage of salvation of her left elbow at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Centre, within the RD&E. The surgeon caring for her there is well known to Mr Simon Lambert at UCL. Mr Lambert is very expert in the surgery of the shoulder and elbow joints. All this was unnecessary if a simple fracture had been treated promptly and well when it happened on the 17thof September.

I will finish in reflection. You know my views on what I charge is a gross over-reaction to a likely engineered respiratory virus. Currently, including this paper, the government , via the media, is connecting the ‘toss a coin’ RT-PCR test with disease. The BBC blazons say ‘27,270 cases yesterday’. The vast majority will have no illness but the coin has landed heads up. From this the waves spread. ‘Self-isolation’ > family isolation > the GP then self isolating. Great anxiety and impaired or absent care. Patients with skin lesions ask to send a photo – if they have a camera and a computer. The essential human contact between doctor and patient sadly, and sometimes dangerously broken, as I have said in a previous column.

Before any ‘covid’ there were terrible backlogs in clinics, and especially in planned surgery. Consider. I saw a lady of about 56 limping badly in a quiet lane in this parish – 2,444 souls. I know her from supplying the family with logs. I wound down the window and took a short history. She was uncertain of the diagnosis; the story was of osteoarthritis of the hip. I alone know of two others in this parish who have severe pain and disability due to the same disease – so common in the ‘Caucasian’. An operation that was partly developed at the ‘Princess’ and which takes the team about 90 minutes to do, and which banishes pain and disability, is now more distant for these three women, and some thousands more in Devon alone. The CCG and ‘Trusts’ have added to that delay and distress with their so called policies.

Footnote. Website of Devon CCG – quote: "Our mission is to work together to commission the right services to improve the lives of those who live in Devon."

David Halpin MB BS FRCS Retired orthopaedic and trauma surgeon – Torbay, and bulldozed in 1996 - the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital, Exeter with its 4 modern theatres and 120 beds, along with its great expertise.