People from Exmouth and Budleigh who are recovering from strokes could be forced to go into Exeter for their rehabilitation, after the NHS resurrected plans to centralise care.

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Currently, stroke victims can go for rehabilitation to the stroke unit at Exmouth Hospital – which was relocated from Budleigh last month – after they leave the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital’s stroke unit.

However, the NHS is now consulting on plans to close the Exmouth unit, along with a unit in Crediton, in favour of a new single unit.

The plan was originally suggested in 2012, before being put on the back burner. However, it is now back on the table.

Dr Joe Mays, of the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Although the outcomes for patients and carers using the existing community stroke rehabilitation units are good and the experience is normally very positive, travelling to the units can be difficult for families, especially if they are using public transport. Added to this, we have learned that dispersing the nursing and clinical teams over two small units does not make the best use of highly specialist skills and resources to bring maximum benefit for patients.

“In view of this your local clinicians have been looking at the possibility of consolidating the rehabilitation units onto one site.”

An NHS spokesman confirmed that a centralised unit, if it went ahead, would be located in Exeter.

Asked for his view on the plan, Len Worsfold, the chairman of the Exmouth Stroke Survivors Club, admitted that while it might be better for Exmouth residents if the unit stayed in the town, he could understand the benefits of the move.

He said: “On average 30 people a year have a stroke in Exmouth, and in Exeter the number is 300 on average. For Exmouth people it would be nice to have it in Exmouth.

“Thirty families would use the facility, possibly over the course of a year, but looking at it financially it would be better to have a purpose-built place in Exeter, where it can have more facilities.”

The NHS is organising a series of focus groups to discuss the proposals with the public, with an event being held in Exmouth at Bidmead House, Bidmead Close, on Wednesday, January 22, between 11am and 12.30pm.

If you would like to be part of this group, or complete a ‘Have your say’ survey, contact the Stroke Association’s Ann Fulger on 01392 447361 between 9am and 1pm, Monday to Thursday.

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