I expect that you have heard about Ottery St Mary Hospital’s latest plight – that the building is set shortly to be acquired by NHS Property Services which has the ability to charge commercial rents to NHS organisations.
You will be aware that NEW Devon CCG intends to set up a health hub once the remainder of the beds are removed later this year but the latest news means that if commercial rents are charged (very likely) it may be unaffordable to continue to use the building, after which NHS Property Services may well sell it off.
I am sure you will be familiar with the financial position of NEW Devon CCG, which is some £80m in deficit.
This is the worst case scenario of course, but it is certainly possible and DCC’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee (of which I am a member) will be examining this very issue at its June meeting. It doesn’t just affect Ottery, but community hospitals right across Devon.
Given the body blow that has already been served to Ottery St Mary by way of losing all its beds, the thought of the building being potentially sold off is completely beyond the pale – and horribly unfair to the community, which worked incredibly hard to fundraise large amounts of money for it to be built in the 1990s.
I would be grateful if you would arrange a meeting with the secretary of state for health as a matter of urgency and ask him for cast iron assurances that Ottery Hospital will not be sold off, but instead that it will remain safe and will continue to be used for the benefit of the community only.
I look forward to hearing from you.