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Written by Philip Algar   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 22:22

The Save Our Ottery Hospital Group SOOH, is anxious to secure representation on the newly-created Wakley Stakeholder Reference Group. This has been created to provide feedback to the Clinical Commissioning Group which, inter alia, has proposed the closure of the Ottery Hospital inpatient beds and minor injuries unit.

SOOH’s initial application to join the Reference Group was rejected and representation, for each of the five towns whose health services are under review, was restricted to county councillors and the relevant League of Friends. However, at the initial meeting of the group, on 14th January, at the Knowle, the five towns were invited to submit the names of other potential members by 16th January.

It has been proposed that the chairman of SOOH, James Goddard, Dr. John Ackroyd, a retired GP in the area with experience of some 30 years, and Martin Thurgood, a town councillor, should join the group. It is not known when a decision will be taken but the period for consultation on the original proposals has been extended to 24th February and the stakeholders group will be provided with more information at the next meeting on 4th February.

James Goddard said that Ottery was one of only two communities that is at risk of losing all its hospital beds and minor injuries unit, as well as being confronted with a substantial increase in the local population so SOOH believes that it is right that Ottery has more representation than other locations, where, for example, there are no similar threats or challenges.

SOOH has collected some 1,700 signatures on a petition and has organised several meetings which attracted hundreds of local people who demanded that a pressure group be set up to reflect their views. SOOH has organised more meetings and has the backing of Ottery Town Council. After wide-reaching consultations, SOOH made a detailed, thoughtful and objective submission to the CCG and the report included some 30 letters from the public. Many letters to the local press continue to confirm that SOOH was doing precisely what local people wanted. For these reasons, SOOH feels that it should have the opportunity to represent the local people and to secure a balanced view as required in the terms of reference laid down by the Stakeholders Group.