Health forum turnout hit by 'beer and barbecues' claim
PUBLISHED: 18:00 07 July 2018
A disappointing turnout marred what was otherwise a successful event in the town aimed at gathering people's views on health and social care in the area.
Up to 17,000 people are registered as patients in the area but just 200 turned up at the event at The Institute in Yonder Street in Ottery.
There was a large number of older people in the afternoon but fewer people of working age than hoped for in the evening.
“The problem was that we were competing with a very sunny Friday afternoon and evening,” said event deputy chairman Leigh Edwards.
“And at the end of the week maybe those people of working age opted for the beer and the barbecue instead.”
The initiative organised by the Ottery and District Health and Care Forum took months to organise and is aimed at gathering data to support the continued viability of the local community hospital.
Beds may have closed at the hospital but it still provides around 25 different services and supporters hope these might be increased.
Councillor Elli Pang, chairman of the forum, said: “We do understand that the beds will not come back. But there’s a building there which we were promised will become a health and wellbeing hub and I am beginning to fear we might not even get that.”
She explained that gathering feedback from visitors to the forum event and through emails would help strengthen the case for keeping services at the hospital and improving them.
Feedback forms will be processed to provide data for a ‘needs assessment and gap analysis’. People have been asked to reflect on where services could be improved as well as where they are working well.
The event received support from local MP Hugo Swire. There were representatives from the NHS, local councils, voluntary bodies and private healthcare providers.
NHS and social services are being changed and more community services are being integrated into the public services.
Cllr Pang added: “We are not protesting about something, we are working with the authorities to come to this new model of care. And at the same time we are hoping it will help us towards proving that we need more services in our area and these might be in the hospital.”