Government must now respond to call to stop possible closures of essential services at Barnstaple hospital

A petition calling on the Government to safeguard essential services at North Devon District Hospital has been signed by more than 10,000 people.

The online petition, set up in April, has now amassed enough support to trigger a Government response.

The ‘Stop North Devon District Hospital possible closures of essential services’ petition had attracted 10,438 signatures as of today (Wednesday).

If it is signed by more than 100,000 signatures before the deadline on October 29, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones said the Government response time would depend on the timetable of meetings of the petitions committee.

“They decide whether it gets sent to a minister for a response or whether it should be the subject of a debate; they can decide to do this even though the petition hasn’t reached 100,000,” he told the Gazette.

“The committee is probably sitting a couple more times before the summer recess, so it may be several weeks before the petition organisers hear back.”

Mr Heaton-Jones said the petition was a ‘huge help’.

“The fact that this petition has quickly reached more than 10,0000 signatures clearly demonstrates the strength of feeling in North Devon,” he said.

“It gives us real ammunition in the battle to ensure our unique circumstances - especially our geography - are given full consideration by the Success Regime managers.

“I will continue to do all I can in Westminster. I have already met the Health Secretary, his minister, NHS directors and the managers of the Success Regime to press our case.

“I have invited the head of the Success Regime to North Devon and I am hopeful that visit will be happening in the next few weeks.

“The Government’s response will most likely be that the Success Regime must first carry out its review, which is why I am already making sure they know how we feel.”

Meanwhile, a similar petition set up by North Devon councillor Brian Greenslade has so far attracted 710 signatures.

The petition, calling on A and E, maternity and stroke services be maintained at NDDH, will also run for six months, ending on November 3.

Communities across North Devon have been voicing their concerns over a sweeping review of the entire health and care system across North, East and West Devon.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said all options were being considered as part of a major review of services being carried out to help plug a predicted funding shortfall of £442million by 2020.

On Saturday, a large protest took to the streets of Barnstaple on Saturday calling on the NHS to ‘save our A and E’.

You can view the view the petitions here and here.

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