Liberal Democrats say “re-open our wards in Okehampton Hospital”

13 Dec 2023
Okehampton Community Hospital

Liberal Democrats say “re-open our wards in Okehampton Hospital”

Two inpatient recovery wards have lain empty in Okehampton Community Hospital for 6 years, ‘costing’ the NHS £1.2 million.

“These wards were originally intended for patient recovery and recuperation close to their home,” said Jan Goffey, former Okehampton Town Mayor. “When the hospital was originally built local people raised over £250,000 to help fund it. It’s a tragedy we lost these recovery beds in 2017. It’s also a scandal that the NHS has notionally been paying £200,000 a year for these wards to lie empty when they could have been put to other uses such as a GP or dental practice.”

Underfunding of the NHS means that local Devon NHS services have run up a deficit of £46 million and management are now looking for cost saving measures to meet Government imposed targets. One idea being examined is to hand back the Okehampton wards to NHS Property Services.

“Saving £200,000 by handing back the wards looks good on paper, but essentially it is one part of the NHS saying to the other ‘we won’t pay you anymore’. It is not much more than an accounting trick. But I am worried that the consequences could be severe, possibly even leading to the closure of the entire hospital and the whole site being sold for housing,” said Okehampton Councillor, George Dexter. “We must stop this, it’s the thin end of the wedge. Okehampton is experiencing explosive growth and really needs a fully functioning hospital.”

Mark Wooding, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate said, “At the moment Okehampton based patients are being sent to hospitals as far away as Sidmouth if they need to recover. Evidence suggests recovery is quicker when one is in familiar surroundings with family and friends nearby. It makes no sense that when we have a perfectly good facility available to local Okehampton people, their families are being forced to travel miles. Reopening these wards will also help to solve the problem of bed blocking, thus reducing NHS waiting lists.”

Local Councillor Christian Martin said, “The NHS is under huge cost pressure but these wards are not old or dilapidated. Their re-opening would make a real difference to Okehampton and the surrounding villages. Handing back these wards to the NHS Property Services could lead to them selling off the whole site, which is worth millions of pounds.“

West Devon Borough Councillor George Dexter is launching a petition to ensure the wards stay within the NHS and that they are reopened for use by local people. “I’d urge everyone in Okehampton and the local villages, to sign the petition so we can demonstrate to the NHS that local people really do need this service,” he said.

“I will be supporting the people of Okehampton, and George, Christian and Jan in this campaign to reopen the wards. It is absolutely essential for the wellbeing of the people of Okehampton,” concluded Mark Wooding.

Please sign the petition below.

Re-open our wards in Okehampton Hospital

We call upon Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to retain and reopen the currently closed wards at Okehampton Hospital and to use them for the recovery of Okehampton residents who have undergone surgery or hospitalisation and require care before returning home. We believe this would benefit patients, their families and the local community, and would help relieve the pressure of 'bed blocking' in the NHS which would in turn help reduce waiting times for NHS patients.

We will keep you up to date by email.
We will contact you occasionally by telephone.
Would you like to receive email updates? (required)
Would you like to receive phone communication? (optional)
You can opt-out at any time

The Liberal Democrats may use the information you provide, including your political opinions, to further our objectives and share it with our elected representatives. Any data we gather will be used in accordance with our privacy policy: You can exercise your rights and withdraw your consent to future communications by contacting us: or: DPO, Lib Dems, 1 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PN.

We will include your name and address/postcode when submitting and sharing the petition with Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Okehampton Town Council, West Devon Borough Council.