I will fight tooth and nail to stop incredibly short-sighted proposals that could see a whole wing of Seaton’s Community Hospital demolished.
It would be a huge betrayal of the local community to demolish the very ward many local people paid huge sums of their own hard-earned money to help build.
The wing has laid empty for several years and despite local charities and community groups putting forward plans to take over the empty space, NHS bosses haven’t agreed on a plan to take over the space. They must think again and work with the community on a way forward.
I have raised my serious concerns with Devon’s NHS leaders and NHS Property Services. The process of handing back empty ward space to NHS Property Services will be lengthy, and Devon’s NHS have told me in a meeting that no decision has been taken to demolish the wing. But, as I made it clear to Devon’s NHS leaders, it’s imperative a plan is put in place to secure the wing’s future as soon as possible – one that doesn’t ultimately involve knocking it down.
Seaton’s county & district councillor Marcus Hartnell has said the wing should be handed back free of charge to the community. He believes the taxpayer shouldn't have to pay a penny more for a building local people helped build. I completely agree! I'm calling on Devon’s NHS leaders and NHS Property Services to thrash out a deal to put the wing to good use as a health hub for the town and surrounding villages.
I've also urgently raised the situation with the government, which the Prime Minister talked about at PMQs, and met with ministers including Health Minister Lord Markham CBE, who holds responsibility for sponsorship of NHS Property Services, to discuss my concerns about the hospital’s empty wing.
Lord Markham agreed that the wing's demolition did not seem financially sensible when alternative uses could be found locally to benefit the community. EDDC planning permission would also be required, which is unlikely. He committed to working with me to find a solution.
I will continue to meet with NHS Devon & Property Services to discuss the options.
We must protect and improve local healthcare. Our local community hospitals in Seaton, Honiton, Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, and Axminster have a key role to play. Community hospitals have looked after my family, and I want them to look after future generations for many years to come.