Swire says it’s positive to close Ottery’s “geriatric home” hospital

Venner’s earlier remarks here:

Swire’s agreement here:

So, if you think it is positive and right to close your community hospital because it’s just a “geriatric home” – Venner and Swire are your (negative!) candidates and heaven help you when you.

It used to be that geriatric was defined as anyone over 60 – so Mr Swire is nearing that age and Mr Venner looks like he might qualify too – let’s hope neither of them finds the need for NHS geriatric care any time soon as, given local NHS plans, there won’t be any – though, of course, there will be luxury geriatric care for those who can afford it (perhaps at the Knowle in Sidmouth)!

Meanwhile remember that Independent candidate Claire Wright has campaigned tirelessly for a better, more secure NHS, wants to protect your environment – and isn’t geriatric but is willing to fight for anyone in that corner too!

And this information might be helpful for Messrs Swire and Venner:

“Data gathered by the charity Skills for Care, shows that in 2015-16 there were more than 1.3 million people employed in the adult social care sector in England.

Analysing the data, BBC News has found that:

An estimated 338,520 adult social care workers left their roles in 2015-16. That is equivalent to 928 people leaving their job every day.

60% of those leaving a job left working in the adult social care sector altogether

The average full-time frontline care worker earned £7.69 an hour, or £14,800 a year.

One in every four social care workers was employed on a zero hours contract.
There was an estimated shortage of 84,320 care workers, meaning around one in every 20 care roles remained vacant.”


Ottery Hospital’s “red line” led by DCC Councillor Claire Wright

Holding the Red Line at Ottery Hospital

“Ottery St Mary people (and from wider afield turned out in force this afternoon to hold the Red Line against any further risk to our hospital and its very building.

We were one of 13 such events across Devon – all residents involved are fighting for their own local hospitals.

Thank you to around 150 determined people who turned up in the pouring rain.

Ottery Hospital lost its general medical beds in 2015 and the stroke unit will transfer to the RD&E imminently.

The message from the CCG was that it would become a health hub. Then it was it “could” become a health hub, nowadays there are little or no assurances from the CCG as to the hospital’s future.

And the wolf is peering in the window…. NHS Property Services has acquired the building for free (and 11 others across Eastern Devon) and is charging commercial rent to a cash-strapped local NHS, who previously owned it!

I am personally disappointed that we were asked to move twice by staff (presumably acting from orders on high) on the basis we were causing an obstruction. Yet I had already cleared our event with Ottery’s senior GP, Dr Simon Kerr who was quite happy about us being there.

Of course we would have moved if a car or ambulance had arrived. One vehicle did during the course of the 45 minutes or so we were present and people moved accordingly.

I felt sorry for police community support officer, Maria Clapp who was having to enforce us moving around as many people, understandably, were not happy about it!

Aside from these frustrating interruptions and my speech getting soggy in the rain and then getting stuck to my foot, it was a great event and thoroughly enjoyable.

I was using my brand new megaphone, which was great fun!

The thing that always happens at these sort of protest events is that a sense of solidarity, energy, shared purpose and iron is created. NO ONE will take any more services away from Ottery Hospital, NOR will it be sold off to the highest bidder by NHS Property Services.

I think we all went away feeling absolutely determined that we will do everything we can to prevent this from happening.

Thank you to EDDC Cllr Peter Faithfull for these excellent photos and thank you to retired Ottery GP, Dr Graham Ward, who urged people to come forward with ideas for the use of the building into the future.

Here’s the call to action at the end of my speech…

1. Write to Hugo Swire MP asking that he takes up Ottery’s case with the CCG and the govt

2. Write to local newspapers – letter for publication to Ottery Herald and Pulmans View From

3. Write to CCG – Chair is Tim Burke

4. Write to chair of DCC health and wellbeing scrutiny cttee after May elections

5. IMPORTANT POINT – Make all your letters public by sending to local press for publication!

Ottery Hospital is OURS. While the beds have gone for now. I live in hope that one day that common sense will prevail and they will be returned one day.”

Until that day we must fight to retain our hospital.”


Honiton/Ottery/Seaton: Red Lines around community hospitals on 1 April

“HEALTH campaigners say “you can’t fool us” as they prepare for a dramatic Devon-wide demonstration on April 1 against plans to reorganise health services in Devon. Save Our Hospital Services activists plan to form a red line of people around hospitals in Ilfracombe, Bideford, South Molton, Barnstaple, Exeter Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Seaton and Torbay.

Demonstrators are opposing the Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), a plan to reduce the area’s NHS deficit, which will be more than £550m by 2020/21. In North Devon for example the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust is using a consultation to decide on the future of acute health services at North Devon District Hospital. …”

Red Lines at hospitals across Devon on April 1:

Honiton – Activists will assemble at St Paul’s on the High Street before marching to the hospital, EX14 1EY, at 11am.

Ottery St Mary – Activists will gather outside the Ottery St Mary Hospital, EX11 8ER, at 2pm.

Seaton – Demonstrators will gather outside Seaton Hospital at 10am.


Claire Wright to kick off talks at new Ottery Library

“Have you ever wondered how an Independent with just a few friends but lacking a party machine, finance and experienced professionals can win more than 13,000 votes in a General Election?

If so, come to the new Ottery St Mary library on 16th March to hear Claire Wright discuss her campaign. As a member of the team, Philip Algar will offer a few thoughts and discuss the challenge of writing the book about the campaign, West Hill or Westminster?

The meeting starts at 7.00 and tickets are free.

Contact the library on 01404 813838 or
email ottery.library@librariesunlimited.org.uk”

Ottery St Mary hospital to lose stroke unit

“Health bosses say the move will benefit patients, who will be able to access more ‘joined-up’ care, 24-hour medical cover and a range of specialist staff.

But it presents a further blow to Ottery’s community-funded hospital – that has hosted eastern Devon’s stroke unit on a temporary basis since November 2014 – following the decision to cuts all of the town’s inpatient beds in July 2015.

The move back to the RD&E is the final stage in completing recommendations from a 2013 consultation led by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Stroke Association.

RD&E stroke consultant Martin James said: “Moving the stroke rehabilitation unit onto the same site as our acute stroke unit is a key part of plans to improve stroke services for all people in Exeter and eastern Devon.

“The move will see a range of specialists – including nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, and speech and language therapists – working closely together to provide seamless care for people with stroke. Patients will benefit from greater continuity in care and 24-hour medical cover on site and staff will form part of a bigger specialist team, with increased opportunities to develop skills and gain input from a range of stroke specialists.”

The stroke rehabilitation facility will be transferred to the RD&E’s Yealm Ward and hospital rehabilitation services currently sited there are due to relocate into the community as part of a move towards caring for people in their own homes.

The RD&E NHS Foundation Trust says this is part of efforts to improve outcomes for frail and older people by reducing reliance on inpatient hospital care which, it says, can impact negatively on people’s rehabilitation.

In addition to the new facility on Yealm Ward, stroke patients will continue to benefit from the ‘Early Supported Discharge (ESD)’ initiative across eastern Devon.

This service enables people to return home as soon as possible after a stroke by providing support, specialist care and rehabilitation in patients’ own houses.

The trust says evidence shows that patients who receive ESD spend less time in hospital and can have better outcomes.

Adel Jones, the RD&E’s integration director, said: “These changes will help improve clinical outcomes for our patients and ensure that services are delivered where they are most effective. This means providing the best acute care possible for the critically ill in hospital and helping people who are able to be discharged rehabilitate in their own homes with the right support and interventions.”


Straitgate Quarry traffic re-route sends loads through busy Ottery junction

“Aggregate Industries (AI) held an exhibition last Wednesday to outline its latest proposals to extract sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm.

In its revised plans, the company proposes to send material from Straitgate to Hillhead Quarry, near Uffculme, instead of going to Blackhill Quarry, near Woodbury, for processing and distribution.

John Penny, south west estates manager for AI, said: “Effectively, we would have two or three campaigns per year, of five to seven weeks, and once we have finished that campaign, we would withdraw from the site and go back later in the year.”

AI proposes to extract around 1.5million tonnes over a period of 10 to 12 years and carry out a ‘maximum’ of 86 deliveries a day during a campaign that would take place between March and November.

District councillor Roger Giles, who represents Ottery, said: “I cannot understand why AI is going to such great lengths, and spending so much time and effort for so little reward – less than one million tonnes of sand and gravel. It makes no economic sense. Yet it will have an exceedingly damaging impact.

“The idea of heavy slow-moving lorries making a right turn across Ottery’s busiest road, which is full of fast-moving traffic, is sheer madness.”

A St Mary’s Park resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was concerned about the average number of movements in each campaign using one of the town’s busiest roads.”


Straitgate quarry update

“This is just to let you know that the Inspector has now written his report for the Devon Minerals Plan. Straitgate is to remain in the new Plan, as a ‘Preferred Area’.

So, despite the Environment Agency’s recommendations, despite all your excellent letters submitted during the consultations, despite the fact that there is nowhere in the Plan for material from Straitgate to be processed, despite the fact that Aggregate Industries are struggling to find a suitable access to the proposed site, despite the fact that there are less than a million tonnes of sand and gravel available, the Inspector in his wisdom has concluded that Straitgate should be in the Plan.

Separately, AI continue to work on their plans for the site, albeit slowly. They have more or less ruled out Little Straitgate as a potential point of access and are now looking at Birdcage Lane onto the Exeter Road at the junction with Toadpit Lane.

They are also considering the possibility of quarrying Straitgate on a campaign-basis, spread over ten years. If they couldn’t process at Blackhill, they would apparently consider taking the material all the way to Hillhead at Uffculme, some 23 miles away.

For further information, see



You can also read about the Minerals Plan decision on Claire’s blog: