Health services in Dartmouth – A sad story

The collapse of the talks with the owners of Riverview Care Home has left Dartmouth residents in limbo with their healthcare provision. Looking back through the articles and letters published in the Dartmouth Chronicle paints a sorry story of how this has occurred.  Local health representatives appear to have supported the move to Riverview and not anticipated the impasse over the cost of leasing the premises, leaving the town with severely diminished health facilities.

Dartmouth Cottage Hospital

The extracts below show how this project has evolved over the last 2 years and does not make good reading. We are listing these articles and letters from concerned residents as a matter of record, and to help residents understand how we got here. However we are also calling for a more transparent approach to solving this problem.

Please keep us informed and answer some key questions.

  1. Who is ultimately responsible for providing a satisfactory health service to the town?
  2. What are their proposals for filling the gap left by the loss of our Cottage Hospital?
  3. Are the resources for the proposed home based services in place now?
  4. Who will benefit from the sale of the Hospital site?
  5. Who is responsible for keeping residents informed as the discussions evolve?
  6. When can we expect a final solution to these problems?

I will also publish below the January 16th Press release from Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust –


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.”


These are the extracts and letters from the Dartmouth Chronicle over the last 2 years:

Hospital to close – What are the alternatives

4th May 2016

REMINDER: Hospital consultation date

Monday, 5 September 2016 By in Emergency Services


Patients urged to back health care plans

Friday, 30 September 2016 By Sam Acourt in Health


Profit and loss please, CCG

Friday, 7 October 2016 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in


Don’t sell our hospital cheap

Thursday, 13 October 2016 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in


No way to ward off hospital sale

Friday, 28 October 2016 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in


Health facility talks are vital

Friday, 18 November 2016 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in


Healthwatch set to publish report into future of Dartmouth hospital

Wednesday, 4 January 2017 By in Health

All will be well at health centre

Friday, 6 January 2017 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in

Losing patience with the PPG

Thursday, 19 January 2017 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in

Trust confirms hospital will close

Thursday, 26 January 2017 By in Health

Hospital will stop admitting patients on March 13 as CCG says it’s “satisfied that new services are in place”

Wednesday, 8 March 2017 By Sam Acourt in Health


The new health setup is a worry

Thursday, 9 March 2017 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in


Why did we let hospital close?

Friday, 31 March 2017 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in


Key patients’ questions about River View are answered

Friday, 9 June 2017 By Roger Williams in Health


Get together to sort town out

Thursday, 18 January 2018 By South Hams Newspapers Ltd in



  1. It was totally irresponsible of the CEO of the local NHS Trust to allow the hospital to close without a signed and sealed future. Now we have a building in Dartmouth that can, should, and must be reopened.

    There’s an old saw “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that is exactly what these idiots have tried to do.Now it is totally broken.

    They ignored the public meetings. They lied to us. They trampled over those trying to speak, especially one DMP doctor who used the power of the microphone to ignore people on the floor.

    The overweening ambition to move everything into a shiny concrete and glass edifice that also has almost no parking, that has been beyond me for a long time. They are destroying healthcare in our town.

    • We absolutely must reopen the Dartmouth Hospital. It is a travesty that it was closed, Dave. There is a Carillion feel to all of this. We also need to do something simple to ensure that people from outlying villages have easy access to DMP.

      By the way, who is allowed to use the Dartmouth Hospital car park? It seems in use by those who have a key to a chain across it.

  2. Comment from Phil Roe

    Steve Smith of DTC has admitted, only after strong pressure from people in the town, that a committee to represent the Dartmouth against those who have brought about the disaster of our healthcare has been secretly formed. Other townsfolk, including Linda Goss, John Mitchell, myself and others., have objected to the formation of this unofficial committee which is formed by Pierre Landell-Mills as Chair ( he is Chair of the much criticised and largely unknown PPG ( Patients Participation Group). Cllr. David Gent of our failed and divided Town Council is included as is Nick Hindmarsh of Dartmouth Caring ( he was the headmaster of the much discussed College “ up the hill” ) It is understand that Jonathan Hawkins will join them, together with “ someone” from Dartmouth Medical Practice.

    Several experienced senior people in the town are objecting to this hidden and inappropriate gathering and I have written to Steve Smith asking him to ensure that his collection of people take no further action for the moment since John Mitchell is now gathering the names of experienced and dedicated people to come forward to take on – and this will be the very last chance for our town – the fight to save at least part of our Hospital and perhaps The Clinic. In putting together an approved and open committee , which will be seen by all as suitable to undertake this most important challenge, Sarah Wollaston, MP has said she will join an official committee if possible.

    Please comment here and leave your names as “ fighters” for the cause, Due to illness and old age I am only a most willing messenger in all this, but I will ensure your name and any comment is included.

    Many thanks Phil Roe

    PS. I have just been given a copy two page letter sent by Sarah Wollaston MP., from Mairaid McAlinden, Chief Executive Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust. This has been sent only to those at a recent “stakeholders” meeting but the content will be essential reading for everyone here. My wife has already made private notes on the letter for which I apologise( Liz seems to have found several matters to challenge even in first reading) but I am attaching a copy of the letter to this note since it seems to be of such importance

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