Disappointment at government response over Exmouth's St John's Court

PUBLISHED: 06:30 03 October 2016

St John's Court

St John's Court

Archant

Campaigners fighting to save an Exmouth mental health facility say they are ‘disappointed’ by a response from government ministers to their request for help, but satisfied that they now know where to target their efforts.

The St John’s Court project group wrote to the Department of Health about proposals by the Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT) to sell the facility.

However, a reply from the department said it could not help, as: “In line with the Government’s commitment to devolve power to communities, decisions about NHS services are essentially a matter for the NHS locally.”

Describing her reaction to the reply, campaigner Dot Taylor said: “We were disappointed, but it also points us in a direction. If they’ve devolved power, then legally the DPT must be held to account.

“They must be held responsible for informing the residents, service users and staff about the proposals, which they have never done.”

She added that campaigners were concerned to hear that some initial patient assessments were now being done in Exeter, rather than at St John’s Court.

In response, a DPT spokesman said: “We are continuing to look for more affordable premises in Exmouth but, as yet, have not identified any suitable locations. We would reiterate that there is no threat whatsoever to the services we provide for local people with mental health needs - we are simply looking for a less expensive base in the town.

“If and when we find an alternative site, we will immediately reconvene the local stakeholder group to talk about the next steps.

“We have already had several conversations with this group about the fact some people may need to travel to Exeter for a full multidisciplinary assessment in future for their first appointment.”

The spokesman added that this was based on ‘excellent’ feedback from a similar scheme in Torbay, and that people unable to travel would still be seen wherever was most convenient for them.

The campaigners’ petition to save St John’s Court can be accessed by searching ‘Save St John’s Court Exmouth’ at change.org

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