We need Cottage Hospitals like Teignmouth

1 Feb 2024
Martin Wrigley and Save Teignmouth Hospital group

Cottage Hospitals

The closure of cottage hospitals and Teignmouth Hospital in particular, has been a short-sighted chapter in our history.  Along with selling school playing fields, it will be looked back on as a bad decision.

Since the governments of Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980’s we have been driven to look at quarterly profits, this year’s budget and maximising investor returns beyond all else.  This drives short term vision over long-term strategy.

As an example, for some years now we have had the number of doctors going into to training capped by the government.  This has resulted in students being paid to wait a year or more to take up their places.  The cap has been in place because there weren’t enough training places at hospitals. A short-term win at the cost of a long-term loss for us all.

At Devon County Council we heard of Seaton Hospital closing a wing.  The wing was built by the local group of Friends for local need.  Today we are in the ridiculous situation of the NHS property services charging NHS frontline £2M in rent for the NHS owned site.  Financial structures and Government rules also driving the wrong outcome for Seton – and elsewhere in Devon.

Successful organisations unite behind a mission.  The story of the reporter in 1968 asking the janitor in NASA what his job was received the answer “I’m putting a man on the moon and bringing him back again!”.  Too many of our public organisations today have been focussed on finance rather than their mission.

Government has one overriding mission – to keep the people safe and construct a system of rules to live by that help them thrive and succeed together.

Today our system of financial rules drives the wrong decisions.  Closing hospitals. Selling off and not replacing council homes.  Polluting our rivers.  Not allowing enough people to become Doctors and Nurses.  Enabling banks and energy companies to make enormous profits in a cost-of-living crisis.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Government is there to define what success looks like, and to balance the need for sound finance whilst also demanding better outcomes for people.  That doesn’t mean simply throwing money at problems, which rarely works.  It means changing what we see as good.

For me good is ensuring that everyone has a decent, warm and affordable place to live, enough food to eat and a good health and care service.  Keeping people healthy enables us to live happy and productive lives, and like education, it pays for itself albeit indirectly.


Please sign our petition: https://www.newtonabbotlibdems.org.uk/campaigns/save-teignmouth-hospital


Save Teignmouth Hospital march