Minister’s visit does not dispel fears over Ottery hospital’s future

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 September 2018

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. Picture: Philippa Davies

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. Picture: Philippa Davies

Philippa Davies

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care says he is ‘optimistic’ for the future of Ottery hospital, but would not ‘categorically’ state that it was safe from being sold off.

A visit to Ottery St Mary Hospital by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Wednesday has failed to reassure health campaigners concerned for the hospital’s future.

A group who waited outside the hospital to speak to him were shocked that instead, Mr Hancock hurried into his ministerial car and was driven off, without talking to any of them.

Many local people fear that the hospital will be sold off to raise money for the cash-strapped NHS.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Hancock said he was ‘optimistic’ about its future, and emphasised that the current policy is to provide community health services close to people’s homes.

But when asked if he could ‘categorically’ reassure local residents that Ottery Hospital would not be sold, he did not give a direct answer.

He said: “I’m optimistic about the future, because I can see the opportunities, which is right in the direction that services want to go.

“I can understand that some people have been raising concerns, but the community leaders I met are very engaged in the project and I look forward to working with them.”

He was referring to a meeting he had just attended at the hospital with Dr Simon Kerr from the local Clinical Commissioning Group; Adel Jones, a community services director at the RD&E NHS Trust; Em Wilkinson-Brice, the Trust’s deputy chief executive; Elli Pang, chairman of the Ottery Health and Care Forum; and East Devon MP Hugo Swire, to discuss best practice in community health services.

Earlier, Mr Hancock had been to the Budleigh Salterton Health and Wellbeing Hub, which provides a mix of private services, NHS clinical treatments and community facilities.

He described it as ‘incredibly impressive and a model for the future of community services’ and praised ‘the level of collaboration between the NHS, the council, voluntary and charitable organisations and the local community’.

Hugo Swire said: “We’ve had all the decision-makers in one room this afternoon, and we’re looking positively at the future of this hospital.”

Outside the hospital, a small group of health campaigners, including the Ottery county councillor Claire Wright, were waiting to speak to the minister.

She said: “I was hoping to have a quick chat with Mr Hancock as he left the building.

“We were waiting for him out the front, we were asked to leave the premises even though the hospital building and its premises are funded by the taxpayer. I said ‘no, we’re going to wait for Mr Hancock to come out’.

“We then followed the car around the back and waited for him at the back; he didn’t materialise, and then the car put its blue flashing lights on and sped off really fast.

“What’s he scared of? I only wanted to ask him whether the hospital was safe, and he could reassure us on that, because he has the power to save this hospital and all the others as well.

“But he didn’t want to answer those questions.”

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Other News Stories

34 minutes ago

Don’t miss our weekly round-up of photos from our readers.

Read more

A familiar face of the Manor Pavilion stage will be stopping by for lunch to help raise money for the Admiral Nurse Campaign.

Read more
07:00

A concert fronted by a male choir has helped support local projects in Sidmouth, raising more than £2,000.

Read more
Yesterday, 19:01

Children have spacious covered decking area outside their classrooms

Read more
Yesterday, 16:00

Guest musicians will join Pete Allen’s band for three concerts at Sidholme Hotel

Read more
Yesterday, 12:25

Fears for pedestrian safety has led to fresh calls to address the lack of pavements along a ‘dangerous’ road to Otter Garden Centre, before someone is hurt.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:00

Events ranging from talks to explorations of the brain made this year’s Sidmouth Science Festival a success despite the weather.

Read more
Yesterday, 07:00

It was a Pixie Day surprise, among others, for an Ottery bride after her husband-to-be themed their wedding around the day they met for a television show.

Read more
Thu, 20:00

Band will be joined by folk singer/songwriter Chris Hoban for an evening commemorating the centenery of the First World War

Read more
Thu, 18:00

More silverware may be on the way for an Ottery eatery as it has been named in contention for Restaurant of the Year.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 7°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Sidmouth Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sidmouth Herald twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Show Job Lists


Find planning applications