Local NHS leaders have claimed that the move could increase investment in healthcare facilities closer to home and avoid the need for people to go into hospital.
But those who do need hospital treatment will find four community hospitals - in Bovey Tracey, Ashburton, Dartmouth and Paignton - closed and the number of minor injury units reduced from seven to just three, putting additional pressure on other, already over-stretched NHS facilities.
In its consultation document (page 12), the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group confirm that "the demands on funds outstrip any new funding available and the CCG needs to make significant savings over each of the coming years. For 2016/17 we currently have a £16m shortfall."
The proposed closures, described as a "slash and burn" approach to local NHS services by Torbay & South Devon Trades Union Council secretary Paul Raybould, are expected to contribute just £1.4m to this shortfall. Yet the entire £16m total deficit in South Devon NHS funding provoking these changes could easily be found by the government if we were to stop handing a net £121 million to the European Union every single week - the amount Britain pays into the EU budget over and above all the grants and subsidies the EU hands back.
Unless the local NHS funding shortfall is found from somewhere, as Mr Raybould added: "We fear other community hospitals may also be at risk with the CCG looking to save money." Since the sum to save these four Devon hospitals represents less than a day's worth of the money that would be saved by leaving the EU, a great step towards finding the money to stop these cuts is to vote to leave the EU in the referendum on 23 June.
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