NHS bosses have said the community hospital will not reopen and the promised health care is already available in the town.

The Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group issued a statement which said: “The decision to close the hospital was taken by the Trust and CCG following a full public engagement and consultation programme in 2016.

“Whilst it was much-loved by many, Dartmouth Hospital was built to meet the health needs of a bygone age.”

The Trust and the CCG have claimed the hospital reached the end of “its economic life” and the current layout and room sizes cannot be remodelled “to create the appropriate” space required for the deliverance of modern services.

“During the last full year of operation as a hospital (15/16) the cost of maintenance, heating and lighting and cleaning was nearly £500,000.” This consequently would have meant the flexibility of services would be limited and “valuable resources” would be spent on maintaining the building.

“All of this resource has been reinvested in providing care for local people so that they are able to live their lives as independently as possible at home.

“The money that will be received from the sale of the hospital will also be re-invested into the Trust’s capital programme to deliver new modern facilities such as the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Dartmouth.

“Some people have asked if the Dartmouth Hospital site could be repurposed as a Health and Wellbeing Centre. This option has been ruled out as the site – size, location, accessibility, car parking, cost – cannot accommodate our requirements and is not suitable for a Health and Wellbeing Centre. “

However, the Trust and the CCG said that since the closure of Dartmouth hospital the range of outpatient services from Dartmouth Clinic has “increased” which has saved the need for a tip to Torbay Hospital for many people.

In fact, the Trust and the CCG have said that all the functions of the Health and Wellbeing Centre are already up and running in Dartmouth. Now, they need to be co-located in a purpose-built centre.

The current services available in Dartmouth include: Intermediate care available seven days a week, same day delivery for urgent equipment, 134 referrals for intermediate care during 2017/18 for Dartmouth Medical Practice, 172 people on community nursing case load in march 2018, access to specialist nurses and occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

“We have extra community nursing and therapy support in Dartmouth, as well as better access to pharmacists, equipment and re-ablement teams, and these services are working really well.

“Our Health and Wellbeing team, who currently work from Dartmouth Clinic, co-ordinate a range of services (including from Dartmouth Caring) that support people’s wellbeing and reduce social isolation.

“This is at the heart of what we are trying to do: providing tailored services in response to an individual’s circumstances, rather than just focussing on their illness or medical condition.”

In regards to providing local beds, the Trust and the CCG have said the local need is being met by the commissioning of beds at Beacon Court in Dartmouth which allows flexibility to allow for more or fewer beds depending on the actual need.

“We are absolutely committed to providing intermediate care beds in Dartmouth and are currently negotiating with local providers. We hope to complete the negotiations shortly and will then be able to confirm to the people of Dartmouth who the provider is.”

In addition, the Trust and the CCG have explained their plans for a location for a health and wellbeing centre now that Riverview is no longer an option.

Two potential locations at the top of the town have been identified-the new housing development at Coton and a piece of council-owned land next to the Park and Ride car park. Once a location has been decided upon, the centre which is expected to cost up to £5 million will accommodate a health and wellbeing team, Dartmouth Caring, GPs, services currently provided at Dartmouth clinic, a pharmacy and a cafe.

“We believe that a realistic timetable is to have this centre up and running in 2021.

“We realise that this may feel too long for many people, but we do not want to over-promise: a new-build will take time, including for the planning process which is not within our control, and we need to make sure we take the time to develop plans with local people that are right for the Dartmouth area.

“The people of Dartmouth will continue to have local services in the meantime from Dartmouth Clinic.”

Moving forwards, the Trust and the CCG have said they recognise that previous methods of engagement with the Dartmouth community has “not always met the needs of the people”.

In an ambition to improve this, the Trust and the CCG have said they will step up work with community and elected representatives, strengthen the work with Dartmouth Together Partnership (chaired by Nick Hindmarsh of Dartmouth Caring), share up dates through the Trust’s website and the Chronicle, organise regular public meetings and continue to produce a monthly e-newsletter.

The statement went on to say: “Finally we want to make it clear that decisions made have been taken by the Trust, South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Devon County Council and we take full responsibility for them.”

At the public meeting earlier this month, county and district councillor Jonathan Hawkins asked the Trust and the CCG to respond to the concerns he raised about the future of health care in Dartmouth within 14 days.

He questioned the closure of Dartmouth and Kingswear hospital, the suitability of current health care in the town and the proposals for a health and wellbeing centre in Dartmouth.