Budleigh Salterton’s Community Hospital could become a vibrant centre for health and wellbeing for local people thanks to a close partnership between the NHS, the hospital’s League of Friends and the wider community.

The League of Friends of Budleigh Salterton Hospital, Northern, Eastern and Western Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) and the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) have signed an ‘in principle’ agreement to transform the town’s Community Hospital into a health and wellbeing hub for all.

An agreement has been signed between the three parties to ensure the community-driven project gets off the ground next year.

As part of the agreement, NDHT has offered to cover a significant proportion of the costs and is offering professional facilities support, while the League of Friends are committed to providing financial support to the project where possible.

The types of services which could be available in the new health and wellbeing hub include additional physiotherapy, podiatry, hospice services and audiology.

Clinics offering specialist healthcare for elderly patients will run alongside the day hospital and will be complimented by a respite centre as well as other services run in partnership with charities such as Age Concern and the Alzheimer’s Society.  Overall the vision includes an intergenerational approach covering all age groups.

The impact of these changes means that, in the future, Budleigh Salterton Hospital will cease to provide an inpatient service with 24-hour hospital beds.

Dr David Evans, Chairman of the League of Friends of Budleigh Hospital, said: “This is a great sadness for the League of Friends of Budleigh Salterton Hospital and the community locally as one of our priorities has always been the preservation of the heritage of our Community Hospital.

“That is why the League of Friends together with NEW Devon CCG and NDHT have worked so hard during the last 18 months, to present an alternative use for the hospital that will meet the changing needs of our community into the future.

“The way modern medical care is delivered has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. It is important to keep abreast of all the new innovations in treatment and investigation in managing the increasing complex needs of our patients.

“There have been increasing difficulties in recruiting staff for smaller units and maintaining their clinical skills and of course increasing financial pressures.

“Having a larger unit based at Exmouth Community Hospital will overcome some of these difficulties.  It is reassuring, however, that all the transferred beds will remain under the jurisdiction of Budleigh Salterton Doctors.”

With the transfer of inpatient beds from Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth Community Hospital, the League of Friends, NEW Devon CCG and NDHT are keen to see as wide ranging a choice of community health services as possible included in the new health and wellbeing hub.

Dr Richard Mejzner, local GP and the vice chair of the Woodbury, Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton area with NEW Devon CCG, said: “As a CCG we are committed to developing health services in Budleigh Salterton which meet the changing needs of the population.

“We want to diversify the use of the hospital and create a hub that is well used, provides a mixture of healthcare and social services for all ages and is sustainable.”

Jac Kelly, Chief Executive of the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This agreement is a significant milestone in developing the plans for the future of services in Budleigh.

“My team is working with the Budleigh League of Friends and commissioner to implement the plans for the new services. It is very much a future that as a Trust we want to be part of and will do all we can to support it.

“I am confident that we can work through a collaborative process to secure a sustainable future for a much cherished facility in Budleigh.”

The League of Friends of Budleigh Salterton will be hosting a coffee morning on 16 November in the Public Hall at 10am so local people can find out how they can get involved.

This is part of a consultation programme.  Please come and support your hospital by expressing your views and opinions which are so valuable to us.

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