• Surprising letter to town council about efforts to set up working group to save Ottery Hospital

    28th November 2018 | News | Claire
  • Letter to OSM TC Mayor and all Town Councillors and to West Hill Parish Councillors 28/11/2018

    From Leigh Edwards (as an active member of the OSM & District Health and Care Forum – OSM
    H&CF) in response to Margret Hall’s Open Letter Sunday 18th November 2018 to OSM TC Mayor and Councillors – copy of said letter is in Appendix 1 below.

    Cllr. Hall states in her letter that she has not attended many OSM H&CF meetings, and that goes a long way to explain why her very personal, rather demeaning and sarcastic, letter is so factually incorrect, and in so many ways! It is also clear, that of those meetings she did attend, there was little understanding or accurate recollection of what was said about the recent activities of the OSM H&CF.

    If the aim of her letter is to try to unify, then I urge her to re-read it, note its extremely unpleasant tone, and weep.

    Protesting and placard waving in the recent past has killed all the dialogue between Ottery residents and the CCG, RD&E, NHS Property Services and the local GP’s re the future of our Hospital.

    Elli Pang and I have worked very patiently and hard, over the past twelve months or so, to re-establish that dialogue, and at a very senior level. To demean this progress as “attempts to communicate” or “not managed to achieve any effective communication” is not only despicable, but it is a falsehood.

    The reference to the OSM H&CF’s engagement with NHS Property Services (NPS) shows her lack of understanding of the issue at hand – i.e. that any organisation (Company or Town Council) that wishes to take on the head lease for the Hospital building would have to have a financial track record going back several years, therefore any new company set up just for that purpose would be unlikely to succeed in the negotiations with NPS. The Budleigh Hub had the benefit of Westbank Ltd.’s involvement.

    Engagement between NPS and OSM H&CF has been underway for some time, this was strictly on a need to know basis. Engagement with the local GP’s is also in hand, we were looking for
    a clear statement of support, or otherwise, from them about the future of the Hospital.

    That situation has also become a little clearer due to a recent review meeting. Similarly, OSM H&CF is in dialogue with the Hospital League of Friends, and are now about to engage with full the Committee and board of Trustees to find a way forward. As for the proposed working group, presumably to be led by Cllr. Geoff Pratt, there is a whole set of questions which need to be answered – as requested by six town councillors at their last meeting, and who failed to provide that information.

    What is the purpose of such a working group? – to create a Hub or re-establish it as a Hospital with inpatient beds? The issue of reopening beds was raised during one recent meeting by Claire Wright.

    This is a crucial question – CCG and RD&E won’t be seen for dust if this is the aim of the proposed working group but the proposers refused to say!

    Where are their Terms of Reference, their clearly stated aims and objectives – they’ve had plenty of time to prepare them? It is highly suspicious that they were not available to the councillors prior to any vote on the setting up of a council working group.

    What difference would the proposed working group make?

    How would leadership by Geoff Pratt make any difference? His knowledge of the Health and Social Care field is virtually non-existent, especially compared to Elli Pang’s.

    How would the working group operate with respect to the OSM H&CF? This was never made clear!

    They didn’t even have the good manners to ask if the OSM H&CF would be willing to cooperate with the proposed working group. So far, the clumsy, rude and ineffective way they have proceeded, led by Cllr. Pratt, does not inspire any confidence that they can make any difference at all.

    Because of recent very positive statements by Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, in the Ottery Hospital building, and later at the Conservative Party Conference, there is
    renewed hope for the Hospital’s future.

    This proposed working group – inspired by Cllr. Claire Wright –  is a clear attempt for her to hijack the recent progress made by the OSM H&CF! The question has to be asked what has Parish Cllr. Margret Hall or OSM TC Cllr. Geoff Pratt achieved to date compared to the list below?

    OSM & District Health and Care Forum – Progress to Date
    In addition to holding regular forum meetings – few attended by Cllr. Hall, over the last twelve months – Elli and Leigh, plus other specific members of the OSM H&CF, have engaged frequently
    with CCG and RD&E at senior level

    Had a guided visit around Budleigh Health and Wellbeing Hub and the Topsham Hub
    Meetings with Budleigh Hospital League of Friends Chair / WEB Area Chair
    Are engaged with Coleridge GPs – Dr Simon Kerr and Dr Nigel de Sousa
    Meetings with Coleridge PPG Chairman
    Meetings with Chair of OSM Hospital League of Friends
    Organised and held a Community Conversation Event on 29th June 2018 – attended by CCG, RD&E,
    DCC, GPs, OSM Hospital, Sir Hugo Swire
    Attended other Community Conversation Events in WAKLEY area
    Set up a OSM Health Matters Health and Wellbeing Index Website and Facebook page
    Meeting with outgoing CEO and incoming CEO of Westbank Ltd re Budleigh Hub and NHS Property Services
    Meetings with CEO of LED Leisure, with CEO of local care company, with Chief Officer of OSM Help Scheme
    Meetings with OSM Town Council Group, including the Mayor and with representatives of six OSM Parishes
    Meetings with representatives of other Health and Care Forum leads in WAKLEY area
    Meetings with East Devon Health CEO and Chair – Federation of 13 GP Practices in East Devon
    Meetings with members of EDDC Community Support Team
    Meetings with EDDC CEO
    Meetings with members of DCC Community Support Team and with Claire Wright DCC Councillor for OSM – we have tried to be inclusive!
    Meetings with Sir Hugo Swire MP and his Personal Assistant
    Recent guided visit around OSM Hospital by Regional Management
    After urging by OSM H&CF Sir Hugo Swire persuaded Matt Hancock the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to visit the Budleigh Hub, and then the OSM Hospital – Matt Hancock declared “this fantastic site has a bright future!”
    Elli Pang was then personally invited to meet Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care at the OSM Hospital – this was based on her unrivalled knowledge and connections in this field
    OSM H&CF have since written to Matt Hancock Secretary of State for Health & Social Care re rental charges by NHS Property Services and their effects on the future of the Community Hospitals
    Meetings with Deputy CEO of RD&E NHS Trust and Integration Director of RD&E NHS Trust, OSM H&CF held a Community Conversation Review Meeting (Nov 15th) with representative from
    RD&E, CCG, DCC, EDDC, GP’s and PPG, and issued a detailed report on the event findings
    OSM H&CF have created a Steering Group of Health and Social Care Professionals who are very well informed about health and care policies plus developments arising in Devon which may influence services locally
    Formed a Company Limited by Guarantee – Ottery Health Matters Ltd, currently registering Ottery Health Matters Ltd as a Charity
    Currently engaged in dialogue and meetings with NHS Property Services Ltd senior management re the future of the empty space in the building
    Recent (27/11/2018) Ministerial question about their actions to secure the future of Ottery Hospital raised by Hugo Swire in the House of Commons – inspired after a recent telephone call with Elli Pang

    Leigh Edwards OSM H&CF 28 November 2018
    Appendix 1
    Letter From Subject
    Margaret Hall Re: Open Letter re Ottery Hospital Sun 18 Nov 2018, 16:58

    Dear Paul
    Thank you for your email and copy of your open letter to the Ottery Herald.

    Perhaps it would be useful for me to explain some of the background as to why I have supported the formation of a Working group under the aegis of OSMTC.

    Let me say at the outset that my only aim is to do everything possible to secure a viable future for Ottery Hospital, and my medical background means I feel I have something to
    contribute. It is clear that this will need many different groups working together. I have no interest in any of the politics of the matter.

    I have been a member of the Health & Care Forum for some years, firstly representing West Hill Residents’ Association, and latterly West Hill Parish Council. Other commitments have
    prevented me from attending recent meetings of the Forum, but I have received Minutes and am aware of Elli and Leigh’s attempts to communicate with NHS Property Services, the
    CCG, RD&E and others in order to secure the future of Ottery Hospital.

    I attended a meeting on 30th July called by Elli Pang & Leigh Edwards for representatives of
    parish councils within the Coleridge Medical Centre catchment area. This was to report on
    the “Community Conversation” held in June, also to gain formal support from parish

    There was much debate at this meeting about the best way forward. Elli & Leigh reported that NHS Property Services wished to negotiate with a properly constituted body – e.g. a
    town council, or a community interest company. At that time I understood from Elli that OSMTC were not prepared to undertake sole responsibility for this (understandably). There
    was discussion at the meeting about setting up a CIC, but this was felt to be premature and requiring too much commitment without knowledge of the implications. I (and others at the
    meeting) emphasised that it was crucial to get the support of both the Coleridge Medical Centre GPs and the Ottery Hospital League of Friends in any future negotiations.

    Those attending the meeting were requested to ask for a “formal agreement from Parish Councils in the CMC catchment area to work together and to support work to establish a Hub
    for Ottery, and to support retention of hospital premises.” West Hill Parish Council discussed this issue at our Council Meeting on 7th August. It was agreed that WHPC was generally
    supportive of these efforts.

    During August Geoff Pratt contacted Elli to offer his support, and he also contacted me to set up a meeting with himself, Elli & Leigh. We met on 26th September. A further meeting
    was organised on 25th October, which was also attended by Claire Wright, as County Councillor and member of DCC Health & Adult Care Scrutiny Committee. This was to try and
    make progress in forming an effective group to take negotiations forward to secure a future for the hospital.

    The Health and Care Forum, despite best efforts, has not managed to achieve any effective communication with the CMC GPs or with the League of Friends, and Elli and Leigh have
    been calling for a different organisation to be set up. As it seemed that OSMTC was not able to undertake this role on its own, it was suggested that OSMTC could set up a Working
    Group which could have non-councillor members (something analogous to the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group).

    This would have the advantage of being a formal OSMTC body, but with the ability to include other members, in particular other parish council representatives, EDDC or DCC councillors, CMC GPs, League of Friends, and other interested people.

    If successful, some sort of more formal body, e.g. a charitable trust or community interest company would need to be set up in the future to run the Health & Wellbeing Hub, or an outside body brought in to run the Hub (as happened in Budleigh).

    This is why Geoff Pratt proposed the formation of a Working Group at the OSMTC meeting on 6th November.

    I hope the above provides some background, and why it is not the case that existing organisations are in a position to make progress on this matter.

    Yours sincerely
    Dr Margaret Hall

    Pic:  Me and Cllr Roger Giles at our public meeting in October 2014 when our hospital’s beds were first threatened