Ottery hospital campaigners say they have been ‘left in the dark’

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

Campaigners have accused health authorities of leaving a ‘veil of secrecy’ over discussions to determine the future of Ottery’s hospital - and are appealing for support.

Save Our Ottery Hospital (SOOH) campaign group was formed to fight proposals to close the town’s inpatient beds and minor injuries unit, and collected 1,900 petition signatures.

The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) set up a stakeholder group to discuss alternatives to its plans affecting five community hospitals.

But SOOH chairman, James Goddard, has expressed fears that the decision to close services at Ottery Hospital has already been made and said the campaign group has been ‘left in the dark’ about ongoing talks.

He said: “I fear that the discussions, to which the public are not allowed, are merely to foster the illusion that there is a genuine debate.

“It is time for us to galvanise our friends and all those who oppose the closure of such a socially valuable service.”

SOOH said its fear is heightened now that the number of inpatient beds at the hospital has been reduced from nine to three.

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The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust said this has been the case since November, when the centralisation of 15 stroke beds in Ottery meant reducing the number of inpatient beds from ten to three.

Funding allowed for six extra beds throughout winter, but these were due to go this month.

Talks on Friday, April 11, and Monday, April 13, were attended by Ottery representatives, Councillors Elli Pang and Martin Thurgood, who have been fighting for no change to the hospital services.

But group members were unable to comment afterwards due to guidelines restricting the CCG ahead of the upcoming elections.

Cllr Roger Giles last week accused the CCG’s consultation process of being ‘deliberately evasive’.

In response, a CCG spokesman said: “The CCG believes it has provided the group with all the available information to help them to evaluate the options.

“We would be happy to hear examples where the group feels there are gaps to see if anything further is available that would help.”

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