Fears over Ottery hospital changes
Fears have been expressed over the future of Ottery Hospital after it was revealed only half the beds are in use and food is being transported from Cornwall.
Northern Devon NHS Healthcare Trust, who manage the hospital, confirmed the move to reduce 12 beds to provide more intensive nursing care.
And Cornwall Food, a non-profit making arm of the NHS, delivers food prepared in Redruth to Ottery hospital three times a week, which is heated in catering trollies on wards.
Local councillor Roger Giles said there is concern in the community about what these changes mean for the future of the hospital.
He said: “The Northern Devon NHS Healthcare Trust is under the mistaken belief Ottery hospital belongs to them.
“It belongs to the people of Ottery, and they have not be consulted on these decisions.”
A spokesman for the NHS trust said the new catering system came into place towards the end of last month following a 90-day consultation.
And the NHS trust’s chief executive, Jac Kelly, said: “In July 2012, we advised NHS Devon of the need to reduce the number of beds in two hospitals in response to a changing volume and type of patient.”
He said discussions are underway about the longer-term strategy for community hospitals, but added if there was a permanent reduction in beds there would have to be a full public consultation.
“Like all public services, we are facing a rise in demand for our services from an ageing and increasing population, a frozen budget and the increased cost of delivering services,” he added.
But Cllr Giles said: “There is a fear that if they reduce the number of beds temporarily, and then in the future produce figures about bed usage which show a low figure, and that could harm the future of the hospital.”
Adrian Rutter from Ottery Hospital League of Friends said they were keeping a close eye on developments.
Ottery Town Council has agreed to discuss the changes at the hospital at next month’s meeting.