Seaton Community Hospital has been granted the status of an ‘Asset of Community Value’ in a big win for the campaigners fighting to save an endangered wing at the hospital.
Being listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ means the facility provides a positive benefit for the local community and should be protected. Once listed, the local community will be informed if they are listed for sale or removal.
The community can then enact the Community Right to Bid, which gives a six month pause in the selling process, to try and source alternative ways to repurpose the building.
This decision represents a big win for campaigners, who are opposed to plans to turn a whole wing of the facility – that was build using money raised by the local community – over to NHS Property Services, for onward disposal.
NHS Property Services is a Government-owned company responsible for the management of NHS facilities. The transfer of the ward away from NHS Devon brings with it a real risk that the space could be demolished or sold-off.
In response to this decision, Seaton’s MP Richard Foord and the Seaton Hospital League of Friends charity are calling on NHS Property Services not to appeal this decision, and instead work constructively with the community to bring the space back into use as a new Care Hub.
Seaton's MP Richard Foord said:
“Seaton Hospital being listed as an Asset of Community Value is a big win for all those seeking to stop plans to drive a wrecking ball through our cherished local hospital.
“We know the huge value it delivers to both Seaton and other communities across the Axe Valley, providing care both at the hospital and directly to people’s front doors. To see it stripped away would be a travesty.
“With over 9,000 people backing my campaign to save our hospital, the strength of feeling is clear to see. They paid for this wing; they are not going to let it be taken away by this private company – which is solely owned by the Conservative Health Secretary.
“The ball is now in NHS Property Services' corner. I am calling on them to drop their plans to take back ownership of this wing and instead work with both myself, the League of Friends, and East Devon District Council to find a way forward.”
Dr Mark Welland, Chair of the Seaton Hospital League of Friends, commented:
“This decision is to be warmly welcomed and reflects the positive work of everyone in our health care services. Our community hospital is on the frontline every day, delivering vital care to those living across the local area.
“I hope that NHS Property Services will recognise that there are many other ways the space can be used to boost care and improve the lives of everyone across our communities, and that they will now focus their efforts on working with us to develop a new future for that wing of the hospital.”
Cllr Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon District Council, added:
“I have been clear from the outset that East Devon Council backs our local hospitals and stands ready to do all we can to protect them.
“This status now offers increased protection for Seaton hospital, but this is not the end of the line. Now the ball is in NHS Property Services’ corner, and I hope they will not seek to fight us on this.”