Healthcare action group met with NHS bosses to challenge the loss of Dartmouth Hospital.

Representatives from the Dartmouth Healthcare Action Group(DHAG) met with Liz Davenport, interim CEO at the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust last week to suggest proposals from the group to get beds back in the town.

The meeting was organised to exchange views between NHS bosses and DHAG members to challenge the loss of Dartmouth and Kingswear Hospital which was closed in 2017 and the lack of beds in the town.

DHAG group members suggested a working group be set up including the Trust, Clinical Commissioning representatives, Devon County Council and DHAG members. The proposed group would explore viable models which would result in beds being included in the new Health and Wellbeing Centre at the top of Dartmouth.

DHAG representatives also questioned why the former Dartmouth hospital site was not considered an option for the new build.

Director of Estates and Commercial Development Lesley Darke said the existing site was discounted due to a lack of parking. She also said the proposed site in Townstal was nearer to the deprived area of the population and said GPs favoured this site.

The location of this proposed site, suggested by South Hams District Council would be located on part of the overflow park and ride car park.

Members from DHAG said a four storey building with an underground car park could be built on the hospital site which the group said had “so much emotive importance” to the community in Dartmouth.

Liz Davenport closed the meeting agreeing in principle to set up a working group to look at two issues-the viability of providing mixed use beds in the new build and the existing hospital site as a realistic option.

However she said she would need to consult with other stakeholders before proceeding and would come back with proposals within ten days.

Mike Mills, chairman of the DHAG also met with John Tucker, leader of SHDC last Friday to discuss the district councils proposal to build the new Health and Wellbeing Centre at the top of Dartmouth.

Cllr Tucker confirmed to the chairman that SHDC would borrow the capital to build the new centre and didn’t deny that SHDC would benefit financially if the proposal went ahead.

In support of the DHAG’s proposals, the chairman commissioned local artist, Shaunagh Radcliffe to produce an artists impression of what a new build at the former Dartmouth Hospital site could look like.

He said the issue of healthcare in the town and in the surrounding villages is of “the upmost importance” and “their views should be properly taken account of”.

There will be a public meeting to discuss the issues in the town when the proposals from Liz Davenport have been received and considered by the DHAG group.