Proposals are a ‘real threat’ to Ottery hospital
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Inpatient beds at Ottery’s community hospital will close under proposals announced by healthcare bosses this week.
Instead of beds, the space could be used to provide other medical-related services such as dementia support or even be used for commercial activities like cafés and shops.
Under the proposals, the hospital will also lose its minor injuries unit (MIU).
There have been months of speculation that beds would close to inpatients, but until now there has been no official word on which facilities would be affected.
But a document released on Wednesday setting out a vision for future healthcare in the region formally names Ottery alongside Crediton and Axminster as the three towns to lose their beds.
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And although the total number of beds across the district is set to remain the same, they will be centralised in towns like Sidmouth and Honiton.
Reacting to the news, town Councillor Elli Pang said the proposed changes represented a ‘very real threat’ to the future of the hospital.
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“Everyone needs to think about what they can do to ensure its survival,” she added. “It’s ours and we mustn’t just let it fade away.”
Officials at the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the group behind the proposals, say that the current setup of beds is ‘uneconomical and unsustainable’.
They say the changes will free up funding, allowing CCG to ‘optimise patient safety and quality’.
The loss of beds and MIU would mean empty rooms in the hospital, which health bosses plan to make available to the ‘voluntary sector, social care providers and commercial organisations’.
However, the proposals stipulate that any business activity would have to ‘add value’ to the other services already on offer.
The CCG has started a 12-week consultation on the plans, which will include a public meeting at Ottery Football Club on November 6.
Cllr Pang made this plea to parish residents: “It is absolutely essential that we all understand what is proposed.
“Options and opportunities for providing other services in our community hospital as part of the CCG’s overall community strategy are possible.
“November 6 is a date to put in your diary.”