Church bells ring in fight to save hospital wing

Seaton bell ringers
Church bell ringers leant their support to the campaign

Church bells have been rung in a campaign to reopen an empty local hospital wing.

The wing at Seaton Hospital in east Devon used to have 24 beds, but it has been vacant since 2017.

NHS Devon says it is wasting £300,000 a year in rent and other charges and is considering handing it back to the landlord to save money.

The Save Seaton Hospital Wing group say it could be used for a variety of health and social care services, such as mental health, physiotherapy, podiatry, and dentistry.

They say the wing was funded entirely by the community, which should decide also its future.

Campaigner Barry Brewer told BBC News: "The bells are chiming out as a warning that we're going to lose the hospital wing.

"It's a traditional way of warning the people something important is happening and is drawing attention to this movement to keep Seaton Hospital fully open."

NHS Devon said that the wing was no longer needed after new ways of looking after people in the local community were introduced in 2017, following a full public consultation.

A spokesperson said that the wing was a "poor use of taxpayers’ money" at a time when the NHS in Devon was facing a budget deficit of more than £40m this year.

They added there had been talks with local health, care and community partners to see if they were interested and financially able to take on the space, but no viable schemes had been received.

"We have always been very happy to talk to prospective occupants of the space if they have a financially viable scheme to take it on and we remain so," they said.

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