Sidmouth Hospital expansion plans withdrawn

Phase Five expansion of Sidmouth Hospital will be built - but not yet

SIDMOUTH will get its hospital extension – but not yet.

North Devon Healthcare Trust has withdrawn its controversial plans for a �2.5million Phase Five expansion of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital and shelved them for the time being.

A spokesman said: “Plans are on hold. There’s no update apart from that. There’s so much going on at a national level at the moment.

“We want to ensure something that is of maximum benefit to the local community. “The trust only took on the running of Sidmouth, and 12 other community hospitals, in April. It seems sensible to take stock of everything that’s happening.”

Graham Vincent, chairman of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund, which has already raised �3.5million for the first four completed phases of improvement, exclusively told the Sidmouth Herald: “North Devon Healthcare Trust decided that the footprint we had planned was larger than the existing footprint.”

He said because of extra heating, cleaning and maintenance costs, it was decided, at a time when austerity measures are in place, not to proceed with the scheme until it had looked at all the community hospitals it was taking on, and a meeting will be held in the summer “to decide what, if any, additional services can be commissioned.”

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He added: “We have an alternative plan in mind for Phase Five, but I am not saying more.

“It will go ahead sometime in the future, depending on the NDHT. We are working towards providing new facilities when we get the go-ahead, perhaps in a slightly different context.”

Mr Vincent said the fund had talked through the complaints raised by residents in All Saints Road over the Phase Five application and had “taken their complaints on board.

“We realised the problems it would have caused residents. At the same time we have to take into account improvements to the hospital, which benefit the whole town.

“We have to make compromises, which we have done regarding how Phase Five will go ahead in the future.

“At this point it wouldn’t be fair to say, but it will go ahead.”

In the meantime, the Comforts Fund continues to raise the �2.5million needed to carry out the final phase of its improvements to the community hospital, which, says Mr Vincent: “would provide a virtually new hospital in Sidmouth, paid for mostly by local donations and legacies, which is unique within the country.”