Uproar has arisen over the last week following news that NHS Property Services (NHSPS), which owns the Okehampton Hospital building, has ripped out the hospital’s kitchen facilities.

The shock move has sparked outrage among campaigners working to reopen the hospital beds who argue that kitchen provisions are essential if the wards are to be reopened.

Jan Goffey, Okehampton Hamlets parish councillor and former mayor of Okehampton, said: “This reduces the practical use of the empty space at the hospital. To say I am beyond angry, is an understatement.

“The day-to-day care and professionalism of the medical and ancilliary staff is wonderful. But the high handed arrogance of upper management and complete disregard for the people they allegedly ‘serve’ is appalling.”

The Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Central Devon Mark Wooding, has also spoken out against the NHSPS.

He said: “This looks suspiciously like NHSPS seeking to pre-empt any decision on the return of the wards to service. This seems to be a case of a property management company prioritising its property portfolio over patient care.”

However, the NHSPS has said that the discussion to remove the kitchen was made for practical reasons.

A spokesperson for NHS Property Services said: “The decision to remove the kitchen facilities was made after beds were removed by the former CCG in 2017. Since then, there have been no inpatients, negating the need for onsite meal preparation. Recently, a programme of works has been approved for Okehampton Hospital, which meant the area needed to be cleared to allow for the relocation of services.”

The NHSPS’ decision follows a recent “constructive” meeting between MP Mel Stride, NHS and NHSPS representatives and Okehampton town councillors at which they discussed the future of the disused hospital ward and better utilisation of the space. Assurances were apparently given that nothing would happen to the two dormant wards without further consultation.

There will be a public meeting on April 12 at 7pm at the Ockment Hall, Ockment Centre in Okehampton at which residents can voice their views on the future of the hospital.