CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save Teignmouth Hospital are celebrating after a bid to appeal to health bosses to reconsider its closure was supported by district councillors.
The decision offers a glimmer of hope that the Mill Lane hospital, the first NHS hospital to be built in the country, may get a reprieve.
The Notice of Motion, which was heard by members of Teignbridge Council’s ruling executive committee, received the full backing of members.
Their unanimous decision now means health bosses will be asked to reconsider closing the ‘iconic’ building and bringing it back into use, potentially as a charity-run rehabilitation centre.
Critics of the closure decision have argued that the hospital should now be used as a way of easing the current beds crisis.
Last month the Notice of Motion, put forward by Teignmouth councillors David Cox and Nina Jeffries asking for the closure decision to be reviewed, was put to the executive committee for a final say.
Supporters applauded the committee on Tuesday when it announced it was backing the notice unanimously.
Their decision will now go to the full council meeting on February 21 to be ratified.
After the meeting, Cllr Cox told the Post: ‘I am really pleased with the support from the executive.
‘We are really close now and we believe we can save Teignmouth Hospital as there is a clear case it is medically needed.’
The motion called on Teignbridge Council to ask the managing director to write to the chairmen and chief executives of Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust, Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, relevant Members of Parliament and the Secretary of State for health asking for ‘a review of the hospital closure plans, mindful of the pressure on local acute hospitals through delayed discharges’.
Freda Welton, President of the League of Friends, told the committee Teignmouth Hospital was actually built by local people’s generosity and that they had further funds to enable Teignmouth Hospital to keep running, but that the NHS needed to work with them to secure a future as they were the custodians of these funds and did not want them to be wasted.
Cllr Chris Clarance was first to address the committee, stressing the importance that the motion also required a letter to Devon County Council’s health and adult care scrutiny committee for a further referral to the Secretary of State, as it was the only organisation that had the statutory power to enable a referral.
He pointed out that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel had not focused on ‘all relevant matters’ as requested in the original referral but had focused on the consultation process only.
He also raised the issue of readmissions and discharges for Torbay Hospital pointing out the impact this has on acute beds.
Following the decision, Geralyn Arthurs, of Save Our Hospital, said they were all ‘thrilled’.
She said: ‘The hospital is still open and clinics and operating theatres are still open.
‘And we are now thrilled the district council has approved the notice asking for a review of the closure.
‘We are now cautiously optimistic and hopeful. This is a good outcome.’
The notice had been supported by 12 other district councillors before it was deferred to the executive for a final decision.
It said over the last 20 years, Devon had seen a steady decline in community hospital beds which had played a vital role in inpatient and outpatient healthcare and Teignmouth was ‘no exception’.
Pressures on acute hospitals, such as Torbay, are immense and made worse by the lack of beds in the community to which patients could be discharged by Torbay.
It continues: ‘While positively welcoming the proposed new Health Hub in the centre of Teignmouth, this council also affirms its support for Teignmouth Hospital and believes it should continue to play an integral part in the healthcare provision for the town and the wider district.’
Health bosses announced the decision to close Teignmouth Hospital last year with services moving to Dawlish Hospital and a new £8 million health centre in Teignmouth town centre.