Honiton hospital volunteers' anguish as date for inpatient bed closures revealed

PUBLISHED: 12:28 18 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:13 23 August 2017

A Honiton Hospital Red Line protester earlier this year. Picture: David Ward

A Honiton Hospital Red Line protester earlier this year. Picture: David Ward

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The process will start at Honiton on August 28, a week after the process starts at Seaton.

Several members of a 20-plus group of volunteers at Honiton Hospital have reacted with sadness after the date for its in-patient bed closures were revealed.

The process will start at Seaton from Monday (August 21) and at Honiton a week later, on August 28.

More than 20 people volunteer at Honiton Hospital, with ten members having worked on the medical ward serving drinks daily, befriending and helping with a seated exercise group.

Following the announcement by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, a tea party was held in Honiton to thank volunteers or the years of service they have given to patients at the hospital.

Speaking after the event, volunteer Rosemary Sprigg said: “This is a very sad time for me - I have served drinks on the ward for over 20 years along with my friend Sue Stubbington.

“We have loved every minute of it and been able to give something back to the hospital has meant so much to me. Both my parents spent time in the hospital until their deaths and I received amazing care both times I had knee operations.”

Ruth Fairweather, who has served afternoon teas for 12 years, added: “I came to Honiton not knowing anyone, but then I met someone who suggested that I joined the Hospital Friends so that is what I did.

“I haven’t regretted it - talking to the patients and visitors has been such a great pleasure.”

Heather Penwarden, chairman of Honiton Hospital League of Friends said: “We are extremely grateful for the work done by our volunteers throughout the hospital and it is with great sadness that with the closure of the medical ward we are saying goodbye to some of our team who have given many years of kind, caring and dedicated service.

“Anyone who has been a patient in the hospital will know what cheery smiles these volunteers bring with them when serving a drink or sitting down for a chat.

“We have offered alternative volunteering opportunities in other parts of the hospital, especially our shop in the foyer and on our fundraising committee, so thankfully some will remain with us beyond the closure of the medical ward.”

Beds will be reduced at Okehampton Community Hospital from August 21 and Exeter Community Hospital from September 4.

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