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OTTERY: ‘No intention’ to close community hospital

Thursday, 06 March 2014

Fears over the future of Ottery St Mary’s community hospital have been calmed after health bosses confirmed they had “no intention” to close the hospital.
But they are considering options for the future of community health and social care provision in the town, which include reducing the amount of hospital-based care and maximising care at home.
Members of a working group, including GPs, health and social care professionals and other local people, questioned NHS representatives at a meeting at Honiton Hospital on Thursday night, where the aims and objectives of an ongoing public consultation into community health care provision were mapped out.
Government reforms to the NHS and social services include the Transforming Community Services programme, which sets out to offer a more efficient service to patients by providing care in their own homes, and possible changes to both the Ottery and Honiton hospitals are being discussed.
But residents are concerned about the future of the town’s community hospital, which could be adapted to become a multi-purpose community hub like the one in Budleigh Salterton.
Tamara Powderley, NHS Lead Commissioner for the Wakley sub-locality in East Devon, covering Axminster, Seaton, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth, said they were looking at all options, but confirmed there was no intention to close the hospital.
She said: “We have a diminishing resource but an increasing need, and we have some choices to make. The feedback we are getting is: have we got that balance right? Are we spending more on buildings and beds than specialist staff?
“In Budleigh Salterton they have made the decision to move beds to Exmouth allowing them to offer an increased number of care workers and nurses, and we have similar choices to make.
“The feedback we have had has been unbelievable - significantly positive. It is not black and white and we want to hear soundings so we can make the right judgment.
“But we have no intention to close any big buildings - that would be madness.”
Members of the working group raised concerns around the effectiveness of providing care at home for dementia patients, and the ability of the service to keep up with population expansion as new developments like Cranbrook put more strain on the system.
Ottery St Mary town councillor Elli Pang, who is chair of the Ottery St Mary Locality Health and Care Team, said she was “anxious” about the future of the town’s community hospital.
She also expressed concern that nurses and care providers would spend periods of time travelling from home to home to visit patients.
Dr Simon Kerr from Ottery Hospital, who is co-chair of the Wakley sub-locality management group, said: “Nothing is set in stone. The situation will not necessarily be the same as in Budleigh – these are all things we are considering.
“What we are seeing is a metamorphosis in provision of care and we are trying to take local people with us.”
A smaller working group comprised of members from Ottery St Mary and Honiton will meet once a month. Another meeting with NHS representatives will take place in 12 weeks’ time.


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