Okehampton Town Council has described a response to its request for support to reopen Okehampton Hospital from MP Mel Stride as ‘disheartening.’

Mr Stride’s response is the latest chapter in the town council’s ongoing battle to reinstate an minor injuries unit and ward in Okehampton Hospital to allow residents to convalesce closer to home and ease bed blocking at the Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) hospital.

But town councillors have described it as unhelpful and disappointing.

In his response to the town council, Mr Stride said that he had spoken to Gillian Keegan, then Minister of State for Care and Mental Health who told him: ‘Discharging people from hospital as soon as they are clinically ready is increasingly recognised as the most effective way to support better outcomes. The Act will give flexibility for local areas to adopt the discharge model that best meets local needs, including an approach known as “discharge to assess,” which allows people to recover in a community setting that is familiar to them while they receive care and reablement support. People are then assessed when they have recovered, meaning it is possible to accurately evaluate their long-term needs.’

She added: ‘These measures will ensure that, whenever possible, the views of patients and carers are considered from the earliest stagesof discharge planning, enabling them to be part of the conversations and decisions about the patient’s future care needs.’

Councillors resolved to continue campaigning for an MIU and hospital ward.