What’s in store for Ottery hospital?

Ottery St Mary Hospital. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery St Mary Hospital. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Input from community groups is being sought to help shape the future of Ottery Hospital into a new ‘health and wellbeing hub’.

Despite fierce public opposition, the decision to close inpatient beds at the site was unanimously voted through by the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body in July 2015.

At the time, CCG bosses defended the move as the right step towards providing more home-based care and improving the resilience of community hospitals. They are now seeking help to develop services within the town.

Speaking before a health and social care meeting in Ottery last week, the CCG’s design and delivery manager Charlotte Ives explained it is still ‘early days’, but said her role is to facilitate a community health and wellbeing hub for Ottery.

She said: “We have been taking to local groups to understand what it is that people need - and what [they need] from their local hospital. People and community groups know what they want and I think we need to build on that.

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“Each area will look very different and I’m also asking for your help about how we develop a steering group to develop services. I wanted to get your thoughts about how we start to that in this area.”

There was a degree of cynicism expressed at the meeting as to whether the views of people will actually be listened to in the wake of the decision to close inpatient beds in Ottery Hospital - which flew in the face of public opinion.

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Chairman of Sidmouth’s patient participation group, Di Fuller, said the scepticism over whether people’s views will be heard has to be taken on board.

She added: “However, we believe passionately that there needs to be a forum for patients to say what their needs are and how they can be involved.”

Chairman of Ottery’s health and care group, Elli Pang, said: “We have the people and the energy and the passion to build the current representatives from the area into a steering group.”

Ms Pang told the Herald some of the key considerations need to be what clinical, social and mental health services are planned, as well as consultant clinics and end-of-life care. These, she said, should come before plans for clubs to fit into the ‘wellbeing’ category.

There was some confusion over what is meant by a ‘hub’, but Mrs Ives said the name can be changed and the services shaped to fit the needs in the community.

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