'Good signs' being made towards Ottery hospital community asset solution - but work still to do

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 January 2020

Ottery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

A meeting to discuss the prospect of Ottery's hospital becoming an officially designated community asset is expected to be held in the next month.

Councillor Stewart Lucas told Ottery Town Council, on January 6, he is awaiting correspondence from parties at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and the Clinical Commissioning Group ahead of plans to organise the first meeting of a working group set up to tackle the issue.

The town council had applied for the status to try to grant the building protection from any threat of being sold off.

Since 2015, the hospital has lost its minor injuries unit and community beds.

However, East Devon District Council said the hospital was a valuable resource and served the wider community but did not fit 'social wellbeing' criteria under the Localism Act 2011 - which would apply to buildings such as community centres, libraries, swimming pools, village shops, markets and pubs.

The criteria looks at the interaction and relationships within the community.

Cllr Lucas said told councillors: "I think we now have enough people who agreed to present at the meeting to actually go forward and organise the first meeting officially of the council working group.

"I'll be looking to get that organised probably for the end of January."

Cllr Lucas said he met with Emily Lezzeri, chief officer at Ottery Health Scheme and Dr Simon Kerr, senior GP at Coleridge Medical Centre.

He said: "I have had confirmation now, separately from the original decline, that Simon and Emily will actually be participating in the council-led working group."

Cllr Lucas said there are 'good signs' being made towards a positive solution being found for the hospital.

He said three proposals have been examined - a funding bid put together from the local community, a health and wellbeing hub created off the back of a formation of a charitable organisation, or Coleridge Medical Centre investing in the hospital.

Cllr Lucas said an 'awful lot of work' has been carried out to look at all solutions, adding: "I think it's fair to say they are at the point now where it's a case of having to try and get the various different people that are capable of moving that forward actually taking the lead on that now.

"What we need to do now is we need to really get everybody working together and we need to overcome some of the historic lack of communication."

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