Foord writes to Health Secretary on first day to demand action to save Seaton Hospital

6 Jul 2024
Richard Foord standing behind the sign for Seaton Hospital

Newly re-elected MP Richard Foord has written to the new Health Secretary Wes Streeting on his first day in the job to raise concerns about the future of Seaton Hospital and inviting them to visit the Hospital to discuss the fight to save it from being hollowed out.

In October, Mr Foord raised the alarm about plans by NHS Devon to turn over a whole wing of the hospital - built for using funds raised by the local community - over to NHS Property Services due to being unable to afford the almost £300,000 a year rental charge.

This would mean that NHS Property Services, a government-owned company whose operations are conducted within the guidelines set out by the Department for Health & Social Care, would then look to either sell off or demolish the wing and leave the hospital diminished.

The wing in question used to provide a number of local community hospital beds, until they were cut in 2017. Mr Foord raised these concerns repeatedly with the previous Conservative Government, however Ministers failed to act and instead insisted the issue was nothing to do with them.

Because of this inaction, Richard Foord has been working with the League of Friends charity, that supports the hospital, and the Seaton Hospital Steering Committee, elected at a large public meeting in November, to develop alternative plans that would see the space transformed into a new 'Care Hub'.

In his letter to Wes Streeting, he called for the Health Secretary to commission a review into how NHS Property Services charges local NHS Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) for facilities - to ensure the rents are fair and to establish a new rental tariff to allow empty buildings to be repurposed by local communities instead of being sold off.

Richard Foord MP said:

"People are fed up with warm words, they want to see action. That's why on my first day as MP for Honiton & Sidmouth, I have written to the new Health Secretary Wes Streeting to demand action to save all of Seaton Hospital.

"For months I tried to get the Conservatives to act, yet they chose not to. This has left the local community without certainty about the future of their cherished hospital.

"With a new Parliament, and a new Government, I am renewing the fight to protect our rural NHS and community hospitals - even if that means banging down the door of the Health Secretary on his first day.

"One way to safeguard our small rural hospitals and community health services is to ensure those no longer in clincal use can be repurposed for health and social care, instead of being sold off.

"That's why I'm pushing for a new rental tariff that would allow NHS Devon to pay a peppercorn rent, in partnership with local charities and community organisations, for unused NHS buildings.

"This will ensure hospitals like Seaton can remain safe in the hands of the people who use the services and, in many cases, those who helped pay for them."

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