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Chairman’s Chat 2020

Just about everyone agrees that “prevention is better than cure”, and for many years now the NHS national plans include doing more to help people stay well for longer. That’s obviously better for us as individuals, and, perhaps less obviously, it’s also better for “the system” because, if demand keeps on growing every year, the queues at A&E soon will stretch all around the building and the workload for already hard-pressed Hospital clinicians and GPs is going to be impossible.

Not surprisingly, Ottery’s Coleridge GPs are leading the way. They are now working as part of a “Primary Care Network” covering Ottery, Honiton and Sidmouth, and that’s an exciting new development (as well as a rather less exciting new NHS abbreviation “PCN”!). It means our local services can still stay local, and at the same time support each other much more – our own Dr Graham Ward suggested some years ago that we could have a local network of specialist centres of excellence and expertise and, for instance, the award-winning Rowan and Linden Centres at Ottery could expand to share their skills and knowledge in
dementia care right across the network. Ottery Hospital, RDE’s community services and Coleridge GPs together make a powerful combination!

And as Friends, we’ve been changing the way we work, too. This year we’ve donated equipment specifically for use at Ottery Hospital and Coleridge Medical Centre, as we’ve done for decades now, but our most exciting developments have the potential to lead the way across the “PCN”. We’ll continue to fund a Hospiscare Clinical Nurse Specialist based at Ottery Hospital. We’re funding a brand-new “Admiral Nurse for Ottery” who’ll work closely alongside Honiton’s established Admiral Nurse to improve care for people with dementia and their
families. We’ve set up a bursary for young people from Ottery who want to have a career in medicine. And by the time you read this, we’ll have announced a major investment to help Hospiscare to extend their “@Home” end of life care service to people in and around Ottery (it’s already proven invaluable in Exmouth, Seaton and Budleigh Salterton).

Sadly, we still have the ridiculous situation that GPs and others using Ottery Hospital building to look after you and your family have to pay rent to NHS Property Services Ltd (a national policy condemned by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee) despite you and everyone who’s ever paid income tax or VAT already having bought and paid for the Hospital, but we’re still quietly working on that.

So I can end optimistically with sincere thanks and appreciation to all the Friends, to everyone whose kind support and generous donations have let us do so much this year, and to everyone who’s contributing to the wonderful healthcare we gain so much from. And I’m confident that next year that care will be even better.

With best wishes

Adrian