Yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions, Seaton’s Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord challenged Rishi Sunak over proposals that could see a whole wing of Seaton’s community hospital demolished.
The news that a whole wing of Seaton Community Hospital, that was built using money raised by the local community, has caused anger and shock across the Axe Valley. There are concerns about the future of the hospital if the wing were to be demolished – as is currently being considered by Devon’s Integrated Care Board.
The ward has been vacant since services were removed due to cuts from the Conservative Government in 2017, with hospitals in Seaton, Honiton and Ottery St Mary seeing beds and wards lost. Now plans are being set out to repurpose the space as a new ‘Care Hub’ to support local people, especially the elderly.
In his question, Richard Foord called on the Prime Minister to review the way NHS Property Services operates. The company is owned by the Department for Health and owns all NHS facilities, renting the space back to local NHS services.
The ward at Seaton Hospital costs £300,000 a year to rent, effectively blocking the space from being repurposed by local community groups and charities. Richard Foord recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Health to raise this issue directly and call for the Government to step in.
Responding to the question, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak chose not to answer – instead saying that: “decisions about hospital infrastructure are a matter for the NHS”.
Commenting after PMQs, Richard Foord MP said:
“The proposals to knock down a whole wing of Seaton Hospital are an insult to people across the Axe Valley who raised huge sums to build the hospital in the first place. It is symbolic of the way that this Conservative Government has not cared about our corner of Devon.
“The proposal to put a wrecking ball through our cherished community hospital must be stopped. NHS Property Services must be made to review their rental arrangement, so the space can be repurposed for the benefit of local people.
“Today the Prime Minister chose to shrug and suggest that it is not his problem. This simply isn’t good enough. His refusal to step-in shows the indifference with which this Conservative Government treats our corner of Devon.
“I will continue to fight to protect our hospital and enable local people to get access to the health services they need, at home or close to home.”
A clip of the exchange can be watched here