Campaign to reopen Okehampton Hospital ward launches ‘Chronicle’

27 Mar 2024
Okehampton Community Hospital

Two inpatient recovery wards have lain empty in Okehampton Community Hospital for 6 years. There is now a campaign to reopen the wards to meet the needs of Okehampton and the surrounding areas.

When the hospital was originally established huge support from the local community raised over £250,000 to provide equipment, facilities and services in the hospital.

“I was actively involved in the campaign to open the hospital, and in the fundraising that took place to equip it,” said former Okehampton Mayor Jan Goffey. “It is fair to say that the town took the hospital to its heart and many, many people and local organisations, such as the Lions Club, made huge fund raising efforts. I think that is why residents feel so betrayed by the wards being closed. This isn’t a hospital put there by the NHS, but one built by the efforts of local people.”

“As I’ve talked to people about reopening the wards I’ve come to realise this is not some abstract concept about health care provision. For local people this is personal,” commented Mark Wooding, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Central Devon. “I’ve talked with many people who were patients at the hospital, or who visited a loved family member or friend, often, sadly, in their final days. This hospital means something to people.

“It’s too easy when we talk about budgets and waiting lists and staffing levels to lose sight of the human. There is always an individual story. I realised that in campaigning to get the wards reopened we needed to make it clear that the lack of these wards is not merely a challenge for the local area it is about individual sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. That is why we are launching an ‘Okehampton Hospital Chronicle’. We want to capture peoples’ memories of the hospital, their loved ones and why it is important in their lives.”

“At the public meeting planned for Friday 12th April we will be asking people who attend the meeting if they would like to record a memory about the hospital,” explained Liberal Democrat Councillor Christian Martin. “We’d love people to bring photographs and mementoes and we’ll record their memories. The idea is to have a book, the ‘Okehampton Hospital Chronicle’, that we can present alongside any petition, or document, that brings home the personal importance of the hospital.”

If people would like to contribute a memory to the ‘Okehampton Hospital Chronicle’ they can join the public meeting on Friday 12th April at 19:30 at the Ockment Hall, Ockment Centre, Okehampton or they can record their memory confidentially online here.

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