‘Sidmouth hospital beds must stay open at all costs’

Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Ref shs 3264-50-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton.

Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Ref shs 3264-50-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton. - Credit: Archant

Residents share their personal stories to highlight importance ofcommunity beds

Proposals to cut vital hospital beds have been branded a ‘disgrace’ - as residents speak out to fight for the ‘essential’ facility.

A rallying call was issued last week, urging Sidmouth to get behind a campaign to save the town’s 24 inpatient beds and tell health bosses why their preferred option is the wrong one.

People have responded in their hundreds and many readers contacted the Herald to tell their own personal stories to highlight the essential role Sidmouth Victoria Hospital has in caring for the community.

Beryl Dray’s husband Leslie – known as Les – died in the hospital on July 30, at the age of 88.

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Beryl, 76, said: “Les was very poorly. He was in a home from May and then had to go to the Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) Hospital.

“I was told he was going to die. I couldn’t get to Exeter every day so they transferred him to Sidmouth, which helped me a lot. It made it so I was able to go and see him every day before he died - because of the beds. If they didn’t have them, I would not have seen him in those last weeks. I really think it’s necessary to keep the beds open. If they take them away I don’t know what the older people will do. It was vital to me to have him in the town and the hospice people were there as well and they helped tremendously. The nurses are so good and so kind and they helped him in his last week.”

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The Primley Road pensioner does not drive, is not able to walk far and could not afford frequent taxis – a position, she says, many others in the town are in, meaning retaining community hospital beds is essential.

Dennis Barrington, 73, said both he and his partner Ann Andrews, 78, feel very strongly that the hospital beds need to stay open.

Dennis, of Cotmaton Road, said: “Ann is recovering from cancer treatment. She has had marvellous treatment in both the RD&E and Sidmouth. It would be a sad loss if the hospital, paid for by the community, with such marvellous new facilities, goes.

“It would be scandalous and we have got to keep it open at all costs.

“It’s a disgrace to even think about closing Sidmouth hospital beds. The money was raised by voluntary contributions. What right do they have to take that away? We have got to fight to stop this nonsense.”

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