Why is it so hard to get the community to work together?
Dartmouth has seen an extraordinary level of dissension within its community related to the provision of health services. People feel tremendously let down by the prevarications, dissimulations and shifting ground of our main health provider, the Torbay and South Hams Hospital Trust, not much helped by the local Clinical Commissioning Group, linked to the closing of Dartmouth Hospital and Minor Injuries Unit and the collapse of the Riverview scheme. But this should not hide the fact that at last a firm plan is now in place to establish a major new health facility in the form of a Health and Wellbeing Centre costing around £5 million to be located near the Leisure Centre at the top of the town. This, of course, in no way replaces the hospital and MIU, but the community does need to recognise that this is a cnsiderable plus, within the continuing harsh financial constraints of the NHS, and the need to continually reform the delivery of health services in the UK to meet changing needs arising from a growing aged population and the invention of new costly clinical procedures that save lives, relieve suffering and extend life expectancy.
The old hospital did not respond well to these needs, was an inefficient building serving a declining number of Dartmouth patients. The demand for MIU services was self evidently too low to justify the skilled staff needed to support a well equipped MIU, and staff did not want to work in such a under-used facility. We all need to be realistic about our expectations living in a small isolated community. We benefit from living in a beautiful place, but the inevitable concomitant is poorer services than would be available living in or near a larger town. Despite appearances, I believe the NHS in its various local forms is doing its best to ensure that we are well served and, I for one, am deeply appreciated of the care that my wife and I have received from skilled and dedicated staff. Lets move forward together with a sense of common purpose and good faith.