Ottery Hospital campaigners blast officials for ‘incomplete’ information

Protestors at Ottery Hospital

Protestors at Ottery Hospital - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting to save Ottery’s hospital beds have blasted officials for providing them with ‘incomplete’ and ‘partisan’ information.

Health bosses had promised to give a recently formed ‘stakeholder group’ up-to-date costings for proposals – which include the closure of Ottery’s inpatient beds and minor injuries unit (MIU).

But, following its first official meeting on Monday, members of the new ‘reference group’ expressed concerns about a lack of fresh information provided by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The panel has representatives from five East Devon towns and is able to put forward and debate alternatives to the proposed cuts.

Town councillor Martin Thurgood has now joined the group on behalf of Ottery Hospital, along with Councillor Claire Wright and chairman of the facility’s league of friends, Adrian Rutter.

Cllr Thurgood said: “Monday’s stakeholder meeting considered financial questions.

“I have to say that I was most concerned about the little fresh information that was put before us, by the way it was presented and its doubtful accuracy. It was highly partisan, incomplete and far from helpful.”

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The CCG maintains that keeping the status quo is not financially viable, but campaigners say its figures do not add up.

Cllr Wright said: “I remain completely unconvinced that the plans to remove all the beds and minor injuries unit at Ottery Hospital will save money. I have asked repeatedly what will be the cost of any alternative service at the hospital and this information has not been provided.

“What we do know is that GPs in North and East Devon have indicated that bed losses at Torrington and Budleigh Salterton have had a cost neutral effect.”

The CCG extended its consultation process to February 24, and decision-makers have said they will consider alternatives to closures – which could include an integrated approach to healthcare provision.

Cllr Thurgood added: “We were asked to accept that a bed at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital was cheaper than a bed in a community hospital. I know of no five-star city centre hotel that charges less than a two-star country town hotel, and the same must surely apply to hospital beds. I think everyone will find the CCG’s figures impossible to accept.”

A CCG spokesperson stressed no decision has been made yet, and said: “The feedback we are given by the local community is vital as we consider how community services should look in the future to best meet the needs of the population.”

The CCG also came under fire from members of the public at an Ottery Town Council meeting on Monday.

Iain Mackintosh said: “The CCG went about it the wrong way - they came to a decision and then opened up the consultation.”