|SOOH worried by latest closures at Ottery Hospital - An appeal for more support|
|Written by Al Findlay|
|Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:55|
Confronted by the prospect that the inpatient beds and minor injuries unit at Ottery St. Mary Hospital faced closure, 1,900 local residents signed a petition against the proposals. This led to the formation of SOOH, the Save our Ottery Hospital group.
It is now feared that, although no decisions have been taken officially, the services will be closed. During the winter, the number of inpatient beds rose to nine but now that spring has arrived, the number has been cut back to just three. There are 16 stroke beds but, again, whilst no firm decision has been taken, this is a temporary measure and it is thought that these beds will be transferred to the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital. When this happens, that will be the end of the hospital and currently, there is no reason to think that this will not happen.
Ottery Town councillors favour the retention of the stroke beds and eight inpatient beds. Hearing that the number of inpatient beds had been reduced to three, widely considered to be impractical, the council agreed to keep its options open and to investigate the possibility of a judicial review.
Councillor Roger Giles complained that the Clinical Commissioning Group process had been “deliberately evasive and they won’t give the information that Ottery Town Council representatives have been striving to find.”
James Goddard, the chairman of SOOH, angry that the group had not been formally advised of the closure of the winter beds, said: “The CCG claimed that the number of inpatient beds had been only three at the same time last year. I and others find this hard to believe but the veil of secrecy that hides what is going on means that we are in the dark. I fear that the decision to close the services at our hospital was taken some time ago, and the discussions, to which the public are not allowed, are merely to foster the illusion that there is a genuine debate going on. We just do not know what is happening.
“What I do know is that with bed blocking and black alerts at the RD&E, local people think that it is madness to close our modern and easily accessible hospital. It is time for us to galvanise our friends and all those who oppose the closure of such a socially valuable service. We must ask all who see this evasion and obfuscation as intended to hide the truth to join us. We must expand the number of SOOH members and others able to attend our meetings and to play an active part in saving our hospital.