Hospital beds: ‘the whole thing’s a farce’

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 - Credit: Archant

Health bosses have come under fire from representatives who accused them of paying ‘lip service’ to a report’s recommendations against cuts to Ottery’s hospital services.

Hopes were raised last week after an independent stakeholder group advised against proposals that would see Ottery Hospital lose its inpatient beds and Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).

Its final report was discussed by health officials at a meeting of the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on Wednesday (May 27).

Representatives of the stakeholder group expressed disappointment at the CCG’s handling of their report.

Steve Holt spoke as a representative of the stakeholder group and said: “The panel was put together at the behest of the CCG to look at alternative options and to consider the public and community requirements.

“From the papers we received a week ago, there were concerns from a number of people that the recommendations that had been put forward had been given lip service rather than taken seriously.

“We would like for you to look at how the group was established and not to dismiss them.”

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He based his comments on a tick- box assessment laid out in the CCG’s document, which reads in favour of its original proposals.

The chairman of the meeting, Dr David Jenner, said: “I’m disappointed that the group feels we have been dismissive before we even discussed them.”

The CCG board recognised the level of public engagement in the consultation process and acknowledged the strength of feeling in Ottery.

There was also a strong argument in favour of keeping community beds in the town put forward by CCG board member and Sidmouth GP Mike Slot.

He said transferring eight beds from Sidmouth to Ottery is a ‘zero cost option’ that is viable because of additional stroke unit beds, which take the hospital’s total to 24.

At the meeting, an Ottery resident spoke out against a CCG officers’ assessment report and said it failed to take into account the accessibility of care criteria. The CCG’s John Finn said the officers take the view that a journey from Ottery to the nearest out-of-town hospital would be a reasonable distance to travel.

Speaking after the meeting, Ottery representative Elli Pang said: “I am very disappointed. I think the whole thing is a farce.

“I am angry. I do not feel comfortable with the process and I feel very disheartened that the stakeholder group was set up just to keep some people happy.”

The stakeholder group’s report and notes from the discussion will be presented to a governing body, which is expected to make a decision on June 4.

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