Project group set up to look at creating a St John’s health hub

PUBLISHED: 12:50 20 July 2015

St John's Court

St John's Court


Health chiefs have pledged to consider an innovative way of saving Exmouth’s mental health unit from closure - by turning it into a community ‘health hub’.

The idea, which could save St John’s Court, emerged during a recent public meeting at the Glenorchy Church Hall.

More than 100 clients, residents, councillors and representatives from organisations, including the Open Door Centre, CAB, Bi-Polar Group and Devon Senior Voice, attended.

Only 18 months ago, The Devon Partnership NHS Trust spent £440,000 on moving the mental health assessment unit from Danby Terrace to St John’s Court.

But last year the trust began a consultation into St John’s future, as part of a bid to save £6million a year.

Charities and concerned residents took the chance last week to direct their concerns to a special panel, which included MP Hugo Swire, the trust’s older people’s services chief, Jacquie Mowbray-Gould, and Dr David Somerfield.

It was proposed that the trust could follow the example of Budleigh Salterton Hospital, which is being transformed from a community hospital into a ‘health and well-being hub’.

Once completed, Budleigh’s hub will house NHS services, charities, commercial organisations and support and advice sessions for people of all ages under one roof.

Dot Taylor, a campaigner against the closure, said: “I felt so proud of the service users who courageously related their personal stories and put their questions, concerns and anxieties to the trust, as I know how difficult this must have been.

“The trust stated that St John’s Court is under-used, a fact that was taken up by those in the audience, as to why we could not follow the example of the Budleigh Hospital scheme, therefore, making it a going concern and saving St John’s Court and the money that the trust says it needs.”

Ms Taylor said that the panel agreed that it was a ‘viable’ option.

She added: “They have agreed for a project group, consisting of representatives of care users, to be set up with this in mind.”

Dr Somerfield, who was one of the two members answering questions at the meeting, said: “It was encouraging to see so many people taking a passionate interest in mental health services.

“The meeting was a very helpful first step in our discussions with the community in Exmouth.

“I think people understood the size of the challenge that we face and we look forward to establishing a working group, which can look at the issues in more detail.

“The feedback about the quality of the service in the town for people with mental health needs was excellent.

“This is a great starting point and a testament to the hard work and commitment of the teams based at St John’s Court.”

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