New solution sought for Dartmouth Health and Wellbeing Centre

16 January 2018

Mairead McAlinden, Chief Executive of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust has today announced that following many months of planning and negotiation, the Trust has been unable to agree with the owners of River View a reasonable price for its lease for the development of the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Dartmouth. However, work is already underway with local groups to identify an alternative solution. The following partners are committed to the development of a Health and Wellbeing Centre for the people of Dartmouth:

  • Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Dartmouth Medical Practice
  • League of Friends of Dartmouth and District Healthcare
  • Dartmouth Patient Participation Group
  • Devon County Council
  • South Hams District Council
  • Dartmouth Caring
  • Local MP, Sarah Wollaston

Plans to locate the new centre at River View in Dartmouth cannot now proceed following a decision by the building’s owners not to accept an offer of £225,000 per year for a 35 year lease of the building – amounting to almost £8m over the life of the lease.

During lengthy commercial negotiations with the property owners, the Trust had agreed an annual rental figure of £305,000. It then had to test that figure against independent valuations by the District Valuation Office Agency and develop a viable full business model with all the partners involved. During that process, it became apparent that £305,000 was neither good value for money nor affordable. A detailed business plan was developed and the Trust and its partners concluded that a final offer of £225,000, represented a fair valuation and would achieve value for money for the NHS. Unfortunately, the building’s owners, U+I plc, a property development and investment company, felt unable to accept this offer. The Trust therefore has no option but to develop an alternative solution. Mairead said “We have put every possible effort into the negotiations to secure this lease, and with the support of Devon County Council we have stretched our offer to the absolute maximum affordable to all the partners, this is a very significant amount of public money and we could not subsidise the extra that was being asked. This decision is disheartening to the Trust and our partners who have worked so hard on this development – Devon County Council, Dartmouth Medical Practice, Dartmouth Caring, Dartmouth Town Council and the League of Friends, and the many elected and community representatives who have given their time and expert advice. I fully appreciate how very disappointed, concerned and frustrated the people of Dartmouth will be at this decision, but we will pull together and we are already starting to look at other locations for the Health and Wellbeing Centre – we all remain absolutely committed to delivering this for the people of Dartmouth.

“Of course the building is important, but I want to assure the people of Dartmouth that the additional community staff and services we have made available to support people in their own homes, as well as the intermediate care beds in local care homes, are meeting the needs of the people of Dartmouth. These services will continue to provide excellent care from their current facilities while we develop our plans for the new centre that will bring GPs, Dartmouth Caring, the Trust, and our other partners together.”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP commented, “I am deeply concerned that the owners of the building have refused to accept the final offer that could be made. This comes as a huge blow to the community and to all those who have worked so hard to get this project off the ground.”

The Trust and South Devon and Torbay CCG remain determined to deliver a Health and Wellbeing Centre in the town in line with the commitments made during the consultation on the future of community services in 2016, and this will happen. All partners will now be considering alternative options for the River View proposal, which included:

  • new accommodation for the Dartmouth Medical Practice, Dartmouth Caring, Trust Health and Care staff
  • clinics currently provided in Dartmouth
  • a pharmacy
  • end of life care
  • access to intermediate care services and rapid response multi-disciplinary teams (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nurses, social care and support staff)

Nick Hindmarsh, Manager of Dartmouth Caring who also chairs meetings of partners involved in the project, said: “Whilst we are all bitterly disappointed by this turn of events, it has only served to unite us in finding an alternative, high-quality solution for the people of Dartmouth as quickly as possible. We know from the monitoring information we regularly review that current services are working as well as – and usually better than – before the hospital closed in meeting the needs of local people. Our focus now must be on developing plans to provide a Health and Wellbeing Centre for Dartmouth in the shortest possible timescale.”

The Trust and Devon County Council are also working with High Trees, the care home operator, to make sure that the continued care and safety of the current residents at River View remains a priority.

Councillor Jonathan Hawkins, Devon County Council’s local Member for Dartmouth, said: “Our focus is in working with the care home provider in the interest of the current residents, but we remain determined to work with the NHS and our local partners to find a solution to the longer term aims of establishing a health and well-being hub for the area. It’s a shame that after a huge amount of work and negotiations that this hasn’t gone forward at River View.”

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