A 9,000-signature petition calling for Seaton Hospital's threatened wing to be saved will be presented to the Devon NHS's Integrated Care Board (ICB) meeting in Exeter tomorrow morning (Wednesday, December 6).

The ICB, which rents the space from the NHS, plans to demolish the currently disused wing to save money. But the Seaton and District Hospital League of Friends wants to see it repurposed into a care hub for local residents.

Martin Shaw, Secretary of the Seaton Hospital Steering Committee, will present the petition to Dr Sarah Wollaston, Chair of Devon NHS, on the steps of County Hall at 9.30, accompanied by supporters with placards.

They will then go into the ICB meeting at 10.30, where the board are due to answer questions submitted by the campaigners.

The questions are:

1. Were Finance Committee and Board members informed, before their meetings in September and October respectively, that Seaton Hospital was established on the initiative of and part-funded by the League of Friends, on the understanding that the building would be run as an NHS hospital, and that the building of the wing in question was paid for 100 per cent by public donations? Does the Board now accept that, in the light of these considerations, it should have consulted with Seaton stakeholders before making this decision? 

2. Does the Board now accept that it was mistaken to quote the 2016-17 consultation on the withdrawal of the beds in justification of its recent decision? First, the consultation did not concern the future use of ward space. Second, its results showed that Seaton residents were overwhelmingly opposed to the withdrawal, and the last-minute switch of Seaton's beds to Sidmouth, without proper justification, discredited the outcome in the eyes of the local community?

3. Will the Board agree to the request of the Devon Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee that the proposed disposal is not implemented until they have explored and discussed the long-term future provision of NHS/health and wellbeing services for Seaton and Colyton residents, and reported on this to the Scrutiny Committee, as it has requested, in January 2024?

In an earlier statement on the proposed demolition, a spokesperson for NHS Devon said:  “In recent months, we have been talking to local health, care and community partners to see if they are interested and financially able to take on the space, but no viable schemes have been received and we started the process of handing the ward space back to NHS Property Services (NHSPS) so we can save the money that is currently being wasted on it.

“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.”