Holding the Red Line at Ottery Hospital
Saturday, 01 April 2017 1 Comment by Claire
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.
Two previous demonstrations at the hospital with a similar number of people - in 2014 and last year - elicted no complaint, request to move nor a threat to call the police. If police community support officer, Maria Clapp hadn’t been there apparently this is what would have happened.
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 Maria Clapp who was having to enforce us moving around as many people, understandably, were not happy about it.
I understand that at Honiton Hospital, protesters were prevented from entering the grounds at all.
To me, this raises a wider issue of the right to protest. My own view is that the obstruction issue (at Ottery at least) was a red herring. It is more about control by senior managers who don’t wish to see protesters at hospitals objecting (quite peacefully) to their plans for cuts.
This kind of attitude will simply drive further wedges between communities and the NHS.
When all is said and done, it is us, the taxpayers, who has funded these hospitals and the services we so desperately want to retain, within them….....
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.