£800k wellbeing hub in Budleigh 'has ground to a halt'
PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:24 23 February 2016
Budleigh Salterton Hospital is set to remain closed due to a dispute over ownership of the site - five months after it was due to reopen as a health and wellbeing centre.
Nearly a year ago, current owner Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust rubber-stamped an £800,000 transformation of the facility.
The hospital closed last summer and was due to reopen as a multi-purpose health facility for the community in September.
NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group is in discussions to hand over responsibility for East Devon’s community hospitals to the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.
This would mean the ownership of Budleigh Hospital would be automatically transferred to NHS Property Services, which would need to generate a commercial rent from the hospital building.
As a result, the scheme for a wellbeing hub in Budleigh will have to be put on hold until issues surrounding the ownership of the site can be resolved.
Mayor Courtney Richards, who is also on the Budleigh Hub community board, has spoken of his frustration over the project.
He said: “As I understand it, NHS Property Services has been mandated to obtain commercial rent from properties and I am sure that is what has given us a problem – that’s the stumbling block.
“It is very sad, because nothing has moved forward on the hub for a while and it’s much-needed. It’s a facility that would be a benefit to the community. We had hoped to be in there by now. The whole thing has ground to a halt.
“So many people have been asking about it. I just find it immensely sad that this has stalled.”
Dr David Evans, chairman of the Budleigh Hospital League of Friends, said he is disappointed with the delay, adding: “The league of friends is very disappointed there is further delay in the formation of the wellbeing hub at Budleigh Salterton Hospital. This is due to the question of ownership, which is being addressed by NEW Devon CCG.”
A spokesperson for NEW Devon CCG said it will continue to work with the hospital’s league of friends on the development, adding: “This includes working towards the clear vision for Budleigh Hospital, based on meeting the local needs that have been identified by a partnership of the NHS and local people and community groups.
“It is anticipated that there would be a change of provider for community services, including those at community hospitals, in the Eastern locality of Devon later this year.
“NHS rules mean that new provider contracts automatically result in the transfer of ownership of buildings to NHS Property Services, not the provider, and this is an ongoing issue.
“We are working closely with the leagues of friends and local steering groups to tackle some of these issues around the future ownership of community hospital buildings in Devon. Once this issue is resolved, we anticipate that further developments would move forward at pace. “