We are certainly blessed to have fantastic community hospitals in East Devon. Exmouth, Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Seaton and Axminster community hospitals alongside Seachange in Budleigh Salterton and the multi-million pound Exeter Nightingale Hospital all help take the pressure off the RD&E and provide services for people closer to home.

Important investment is going in to support our community hospitals and bring down waiting lists, including a £1.5m refurb of Exmouth and £350k to improve Sidmouth hospital's facilities.

When I was first elected in 2019, I met with the NHS to discuss community hospital beds. They told me we have 41 in East Devon and every time I meet with them, I make sure they know I won't accept any reduction. We must protect and improve local healthcare – and make the best use of our hospitals. I’m pleased to report that all the space in Ottery St Mary Hospital is now being used. In contrast, I've been surprised to hear concerning reports of plans to demolish a wing of Seaton Hospital. Many of my constituents use the hospital.

The wing has laid empty for several years and despite local charities and community groups putting forward plans to take over the empty space, NHS bosses haven’t agreed on a plan to take over the space. It would be a huge betrayal of the local community to demolish the very wing many local people paid huge sums of their own hard-earned money to help build.

The process of handing back empty space to NHS Property Services will be lengthy, and Devon’s NHS has told me in a meeting that no decision has been taken to demolish the wing. I believe the wing should be returned free of charge to the community – who paid for it – to open it as a health hub.

I've also urgently raised the situation with the government, which the Prime Minister talked about at PMQs, and met with the Minister of State for Health. Community hospitals have looked after my family. I want them to look after future generations for many years to come.