Ottery hospital to lose its inpatient bed unit

Save Our Hospitals- protesters at Newcourt Communtiy Centre this week. Ref sho 4585-29-15SH. Picture

Save Our Hospitals- protesters at Newcourt Communtiy Centre this week. Ref sho 4585-29-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Health bosses agreed proposals today to reduce inpatient beds in East Devon’s community hospitals – meaning Ottery will lose this provision.

The decision was taken at NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body meeting, where voting members unanimously found in favour of the proposals.

This came in the face of strong opposition from campaigners and members of the public, who fought to keep community hospital beds open.

The decision also goes against recommendations from an independent stakeholder group set up by the CCG, which provided an alternative solution allowing for provision of community beds in each of the hospitals in the eastern locality.

Approval of the CCG’s plans mean the number of community hospital inpatient units in East Devon will reduce from 10 to seven, with Ottery, Axminster and Crediton all set to lose beds.

The 15 stroke rehabilitation beds in Ottery Hospital will remain as a temporary measure.

Campaigner and representative on the stakeholder reference group Claire Wright called it ‘a sad day for Ottery’ but vowed ‘it is not over yet’.

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She said: “I think we still have to fight it.

“It’s very disheartening when we have fought this long and this hard but people power can be very effective.”

Martin Thurgood also represented Ottery on the stakeholder group and said it is an expectation of people that they should have a local hospital.

“The CCG agreed that patients, families and members of the public do not agree with their proposals – that’s outrageous,” he said.

“They have also said that views of the providers have not been sought at this stage. They themselves say they need to speak to providers but they have declined to take this option.”

The CCG confirmed no community hospitals will close as a result of the decision and said it enables a move towards treating more people in their own homes where it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Dr David Jenner, a GP and CCG chair, said: “This will improve the resilience of care at our community hospitals in the face of financial and workforce challenges.

“We are looking to continually improve services to support people in their local communities, whether they are cared for at home or in hospital and this is one step forward on that journey.

“We want to thank all the people and organisations who have been involved throughout the development of the plans over the last couple of years.

“We held over 30 public meetings or drop-in sessions and have taken their comments into consideration when making our decision today.”

He acknowledged the decision will disappoint people who want community beds in their own area but said consolidating units means there will be much more ‘robust staffing’ at hospitals in the future.

The process under which the proposals were agreed will be considered at the Devon health and wellbeing scrutiny committee on September 14, before any changes are implemented.