Councillor fears for Ottery Hospital

CONCERNED district representatives fear for the future of Ottery’s valued hospital.

“Alarmed” East Devon District Councillors (EDDC) said consultation about transferring the ownership and management of the region’s community hospitals is being carried out without their knowledge and involvement.

Health chiefs this week insisted the matter has been “misunderstood”.

Ottery Hospital and six others in the region are run by Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley’s White Paper: Equality and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, says it will be streamlined, with PCTs phased out by April 2013. Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC portfolio holder for communities, raised concern that ownership and management of community hospitals could change with the demise of the PCT- a sentiment echoed by colleague and Ottery representative Roger Giles.

“This puts a question mark over the future of hospitals in Ottery and elsewhere,” said a “wholly opposed” Cllr Giles.

“If responsibility were to transfer to the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust, my concern is, when they look to make cuts, East Devon’s community hospitals could be first.”

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He said localised hospitals are cheaper to run, save on transport costs, and are better for patients and families in the communities they serve.

Jayne Carroll of NHS Devon insisted there had been a ‘misunderstanding’.

She said: “National policy requires PCTs to transfer community staff and services to an alternative organisation by April 1, 2011. We need to be clear this does not include the transfer of any community hospitals.”