In the Okehampton Times it is reported that Devon NHS is considering surrendering the Hospital to NHS Property services as it cannot afford the rent of £200,000 plus other ‘property charges’ per annum.  I do wonder how this extortionate sum was calculated and whether it has ever been questioned. This is not a commercial space but a community asset paid for partly by local contribution. Someone – our district councillors or our MP – should be asking questions of NHS Properties.

According to the article the Clinical Commissioning Group  which closed the hospital “concluded that the new Okehampton Medical Centre had the capacity to treat the town’s hospital patients”.   Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to how many ‘in-patient beds’ there are at the medical centre.

I recently had cause to visit Okehampton for a 4pm appointment. I was struck by how deserted it was, silent rooms everywhere, so different to how it used to be.   Even the Maternity Ward still closed despite promises that it would reopen, I wonder if rent is also being charged for this space?

The Lansley ‘Reforms’ did so much harm and caused many hospital closures. However, it never did make any sense either medically or financially to close our modern hospital but Tavistock Hospital (Victorian?) was allowed to remain open. I know the community fought hard to keep it but perhaps the local GPs should have helped more.

We hear daily of the lengthy hospital waiting lists and problems with ‘bed blocking’  – I suspect its the closure of our hospital  (and no doubt many more similar throughout the country} which have contributed to this situation.  

I can only hope that in 2024 there is a renewed fight by the whole community to finally reopen the hospital with all its services - in patient beds, the maternity ward , the Minor Injury Unit (open till 9 as it used to be) plus the many clinics.

Caroline Yardley

by email