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I have had a long and friendly relationship with our local 'rag' - the Mid Devon Advertiser based in Newton Abbot.  I have written quite often for instance about the closure of community hospitals. About 70% of such beds in these crucial hospitals have been closed in Devon. The fascists in Westminster have minds and intentions that see OUR NHS as being too good for the common woman and man. They want a return to a 'cap in hand' Victorian model, or up your mortgage to find £15,000 to relieve the pain and disability so easily treated by a hip replacement.

I had an especially friendly and productive relationship with Patrick Beasley, a long serving senior journalist on this paper. He encouraged me to write a series of 'In My Opinion by Doctor David Halpin'. There were about 22 in all, and included warm and inspiring pieces like this attached. He told me that they were much appreciated and some older people thanked me in the street for them.

"But the last piece I presented to the MDA on the 31st of October was mangled purposely. The week previously that attached second was published 27-10-2023, but no doubt the Zionist and right-wing lobbies got on the blower. The catch was that I had mentioned a genocide which in fact started in 1947 in Palestine, and which has been incremental since reaching its apogee Oct 7th 2023. Read - Ilan Pappe - The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. The text of this article as sent 31-10-23 is attached third. I cannot find my scanning of the version the MDA printed, but the crucial quotation of John Donne was crippled, and the font reduced to make it difficult to read, especially for the elderly."

Since then I have written two cogent letters which were not published. But I persist, sending this letter below on Sunday 10th March, and well before the deadline. In the two weeks' previous papers the fight to keep Teignmouth hospital and re-open its beds was on the front pages, with photos - placards held up. But the MDA does not want the central facts exposed by a doctor and surgeon who has seen the whole rotten process of Destabilise>Demoralise>Dismantle>Destroy.

Teignmouth Hospital in Westminster's Grasp

"The Battle Continues for Historic Hospital". Front page - Mid Devon Advertiser - Ellen Grindley March 7th 2024

Those that know the vital need for this hospital to be re-opened for in-patients battle bravely on. I have written before of my visiting patients in this airy hospital with its recuperative views over Lyme Bay.

Many patients were in my field of orthopaedic and trauma surgery - some in severe pain with eminently curable conditions like severe sciatica.

I have battled for years with others for the retention of our community hospitals but in spite of facts and logic, the care of many in need has been met with closure of 70% of community hospital beds in Devon. This has been rammed through against majority opinion by the previously named Clinical Commissioning Group, all GPs bar one nominal specialist. And the Torbay 'Trust' gave full support to the CCG knowing full well that 'delayed discharges' would happen more, along with other incurable deficiencies in kindly and efficient care.

This letter will be amplified and sent to the Chairman of the board, Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson KBE, CB, DSC, DL.  I have written to the chair before on the 18th April 2017 (posted on my website) but had no answer.

And we got no answer when I wrote with 10 other doctors and specialists to the Chief Executive Officer of the North Devon Hospital Trust on the 18th September 2015. Dr Alison Diamond was a GP. (Posted too on my website). We had over 300 years of service in OUR NHS between us. One was Denis Keane, GP in Teignmouth, and two were orthopaedic colleagues of mine from the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital. These values of community hospitals were listed thus -

The GP and the CH

1.  20% to 30% of acute illness can be dealt with by GPs in their local hospitals.  With the latter closed or downgraded, those patients who are mostly elderly, will add to pressure on the ambulance service, and the queues in A&E and the 'assessment' ward.  GPs have been trained to a high standard and relish using their skills directly.

2.  Some patients whose lives are ebbing and who cannot be managed at home, or who are far from a hospice, have been cared for by the doctor and nurses they know in the CH.  This duty is one of the most sacred for all the professions involved.

3.  The third function of the CH is the care of the patient needing a bed between the general hospital and home.  Without this function, 'delayed discharges' in the DGHs will escalate; this cannot be estimated.  There is a likely 'multiplier' effect.  The doctor and those local nurses will know the patient and family, and what recovery can be gained with good medical and moral support, not to mention closeness and practicability for visiting relatives and friends.  There is great scope for enlarging this function in face of growing demand.  There is also potential for greater simplicity.

4.  The fourth – the pre-planned early discharge to the CH of surgical patients who cannot go straight home. The consultations regarding 'care in the community' gives little credit to what has gone before.  For instance - in the late 80s, the first signatory who was then chairman, systematised the discharge of those patients undergoing hip and knee replacement who could not go straight home.  The sisters from the CHs came up to be shown the ropes by our sisters at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital.  The GPs serving the CHs co-operated fully.  One letter and goodwill sufficed.  When a patient was called for an operation, a bed was booked in the local CH at the same time.  (No computer.)  Those patients were discharged to the CH on the 5th day, ensuring a bed for a patient on the next operating list.  This is how things should work.  It showed a happy interdependence of all parts.  In this case, a single 'specialty' hospital was at the hub; that 120 bed hospital was demolished by political diktat and is now a housing estate.

5.  Respite care.  An occasional need but a way sometimes of saving the health of the carer.

No other professional structures/facilities exist which can take over even one of these five functions.  This summary of functions underlines the great importance of the community hospital within our NHS.

The letter ended with - Above all, we believe that closure of more than a few of the CH beds existing before 2012, will cripple the DGHs to such an extent that bed crises will be commonplace throughout the year, though even worse in winter.  Thus medical services overall, will be greatly impaired.

The chairman of Teignbridge District Hospital, Mr Chris Clarance, was quoted last week - "The NHS says its model of care is working efficiently. If it was there would not be queues of ambulances lined up on a daily basis outside Torquay's A&E department." And I could add no need for an elderly man from Haytor with poor eyesight to wait some hours in an ambulance with a reported diagnosis of septicaemia, That condition always requires the most urgent investigation and treatment - of course.

I finish with a 'case report' - of a good friend. He lived with his wife 2 miles from this hospital. He had a malignant tumour which first caused severe pain below his collar bone eight months ago. It was the same cancer that the MDA reported in a retired teacher in Dawlish three weeks ago. He had received compensation, because like my friend, it was linked with exposure to asbestos. I went to their home 6 weeks ago and found this previously very fit man in bed with very severe pain, looking very ill and having lost two stones. His wife was exhausted from caring for him and knowing that his pain was unrelieved. He was taken to Rowcroft Hospice two days later, his pain relieved and with wife, family and good friends to cherish him. He died two weeks later.

This veteran of the Royal Marines - he had served for 9 years, would have been better cared for and without delay in previous years. A general practitioner - the family doctor, would have said 'we need to control your pain whilst we investigate the cause. I will get you into Teignmouth Hospital this week".

There are many more fellow citizens whose suffering could be dealt with promptly and kindly if such vital hospital beds were re-opened. I say that 'to care is the most important characteristic of any worthwhile society'. 

David Halpin MB BS FRCS

* This one of about 200 owned by the Tindle Group  seeks to distract - mostly with the trivial and vapid. Every week we have the 'The View from Westminster'. Currently this is authored by the Rt.Hon. Mel Stride MP for Central Devon and Anne Marie Morris MP for Newton Abbot. Both are supporters of the Israeli genocide of the native people having voted against a 'ceasefire' in the 'House' last November. No vote was taken in the chaos engendered by the Speaker and supporter of Israel Sir Lindsay Hoyle a few weeks ago.