Ottery Hospital could be named a ‘community asset’ to protect it from future sale

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

Ottery Hospital could be turned into a ‘community asset’ to fend off any threat of it being sold.

Town councillors are pressing the local NHS to reveal exactly what its plans are for the site.

Councillor Roger Giles told Tuesday’s Town Council meeting: “Once it’s sold off – and NHS Property Services is perfectly entitled to do that - it’s gone and there’s another nail in the coffin of Ottery.

“The ideal is to have the hospital beds reinstated. That could never happen if you haven’t got the hospital there.”

He said the Community Commissioning Group (CCG) had so far ‘studiously avoided’ revealing its estates’ strategy.

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The Council backed his proposal to write to the CCG expressing their strong desire that Ottery hospital should remain a hub for treatment. “Recent history on closing inpatient beds, stroke units and injury units shows that changes can be brought forward with minimal notice and total disregard for earlier plans,” he said.

The hospital is managed by the CCG but the building is owned by NHS Property Services. Inpatient beds were closed in July 2015 and the stroke unit in April last year.

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In a new move the Council is looking to add the hospital to its list of assets of community value. The suggestion was made in the public session by Philip Algar.

“Sooner or later the site will be sold notwithstanding hopes and plans that it might survive as a hub,” he said.

Honiton and Torrington are already taking similar steps. Just 21 signatures are needed to nominate an asset.

Outgoing mayor, Cllr Glyn Dobson, said: “I think it’s an excellent idea. It doesn’t cost the council anything. It gives us an opportunity for six months to see if we can actually raise the money to buy that building if we needed it for the town. It doesn’t give us any preference but it does delay things.’

Cllr Elli Pang who chairs the Ottery Health and Care Forum has set up a meeting with the CCG on June 29 at The Institute to discuss hospital services.

She said there was nothing wrong in principle with writing to the CCG but she was concerned that ‘political issues’ might ‘stir the waters and muddy them’.

Under the Localism Act 2011, councils can obtain a right to buy by nominating assets deemed to be of community value.

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