Consultation must be had on Okehampton Hospital's future says town's MP

Tuesday 11th July 2017 10:02 am

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OKEHAMPTON’S MP and its county councillor have both said that the community needs to be fully consulted ahead of any decision on the future of Okehampton’s maternity unit or other local healthcare services.

Mel Stride MP spoke to Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group‘s (NEW Devon CCG) chair Dr Tim Burke on June 30 after NHS Devon’s Acute Services Review included the recommendation that the maternity unit at Okehampton Hospital be withdrawn. A briefing note on the review gave the recommendation to close midwifery-led maternity units in Okehampton, Tiverton, Honiton and Newton Abbot.

The proposed closure of the unit is part of a wider review into the county’s acute health services, including accident and emergency, stroke services and more. The clinicians behind the review claim that the new model could provide more effective services though the review has also been driven by needs to reduce healthcare budgets in Devon.

Mr Stride stated that Dr Burke explained to him that the recommendation was solely based ‘on a clinical assessment’.

Mr Stride said: ‘I understand and appreciate that NHS Devon are making this recommendation solely from a clinical point of view and not as a cost-saving measure but the views of residents and stakeholders must be fully considered.

‘Despite the CCG announcing in January that Okehampton Hospital will be retained as a Health and Wellbeing Centre and that local stakeholders will be able to have their say on the kind of services that are available, six months later no consultation has commenced.

‘I pressed upon the CCG the importance of moving ahead with this as soon as possible and expressed my deep disappointment with the lack of progress.’

Devon County Councillor Kevin Ball said: ‘Mel is absolutely right that local residents, the hospital’s League of Friends and other stakeholders must have their say on the out-patient services that will be provided after the hospital becomes a health and wellbeing hub and that local views are taken into account when the final decision is made on the future of the maternity unit.’

The news about the potential closure of the maternity unit was the latest blow in healthcare to the town.

It was confirmed in March that all 16 in-patient beds at the hospital would close. Plans to remove the beds were unveiled by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) last September as part of a wider plan for the county’s eastern locality to lose half its community hospital in-patient beds.

The Okehampton community fought hard to save the beds and a petition with more than 3,500 signatures opposing the decision was handed to NEW Devon CCG.

The hospital also saw its minor injuries unit moved to Okehampton Medical Centre and the closure of its GP surgery, the Okement Surgery, in 2016.


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