Milverton, Somerset

£4.4 million hospital eye theatre

People in Somerset are set to benefit from improved access to eye care thanks to a brand new £4.4 million ophthalmic theatre suite set to open at Musgrove Park Hospital.

The new suite is in addition to Musgrove 2030 – an ambitious programme to transform the hospital’s facilities and ensure people are cared for in the right place to meet their health needs.

It will mean consultant eye surgeons at the hospital will be able to perform many more operations every week.

Mr Ed Herbert, consultant ophthalmologist at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said,

“This is an exciting opportunity to improve the service we can offer. The eye unit is the busiest department at Musgrove Park Hospital, carrying out over 3,000 operations every year and providing nearly 50,000 outpatient appointments.

Historically there has always been a greater demand for surgery than we can meet, leading to long waiting times.

With new social distancing requirements in place, as well as reduced theatre availability, our ophthalmology patients have inevitably needed to wait longer than we’d wish for a procedure. These new facilities will give greater capacity with the aim of reducing waiting times.”

The suite is being constructed off site as a modular build, complete with all the equipment inside, which means it can be lifted into place with limited disruption to the hospital site.

It will have dedicated changing rooms and private waiting area, as well as rooms for anaesthetists and surgeons to speak confidentially to, and examine, patients before their operation.

Patients will also be able to access the unit direct from the car park without needing to walk through the main hospital building.

Mr Pradeep Madhavan, orthopaedic consultant at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said,

“This new unit will be a modern facility that will allow ophthalmic patients to continue with their surgical treatment safely and in time without being unduly affected by conditions in the rest of the hospital and community.

The project is moving at pace and is a tribute to the team spirit within the department of ophthalmology and expertise and leadership in various parts of our NHS trust.”

Approval for the development is subject to planning permission and Somerset West and Taunton Council will consider this at its planning meeting in early summer.

Residents of Milverton and Fitzhead accustomed to long waiting times for the Eye Department will be delighted to see the press release from Musgrove Park Hospital.

Milverton defibrillator

If you have walked past the Victoria Rooms recently you may have noticed that the nondescript blue box by the side entrance door has been replaced with a transparent circular unit. This is the cabinet for the villages’ brand new public access defibrillator.

This is the latest equipment provided by the South Western Ambulance Service with whom the Parish Council has entered into a multi-year agreement which includes full maintenance support and annual training.

The defibrillator is designed to be easily operated by anyone. Once opened the unit gives step by step voice instructions taking you through the simple procedure.

The pandemic has meant that familiarisation/training sessions have been halted, but will be resumed once restrictions are lifted. Anyone who hasn’t attended one of these informal sessions, as well as anyone who would like a refresher, should look out for details in this magazine, on the village main notice board, and this website.

Your duty in the countryside

It is important that we recognise when exercising in the countryside that the land and pathways we walk over do all belong to someone. ‘Right of Way’ does not mean we have the right to walk off designated paths. Observing social distancing is difficult when meeting other walkers on narrow field margins, but it should not lead to trampling onto or over a crop.

A particular example that is causing great concern is the well used footpath that leads from top of Wood Street up to Quaking House Lane — ref: WG 7/25. A swathe of crop adjacent to this foot path is being trampled carelessly and unnecessarily. The farmer is on the verge of fencing this footpath as his patience is running out. Please make sure you know the footpath you intend to walk and respect that. If you walk with a dog please make sure you keep it under control not just with live stock, but also with crop and pick up after it.

Thank you.

Community and Village Agents April update

Spring is in full swing and so is the COVID-19 vaccine roll out! Hopefully mid-April will see the 40-50 year group invited to have vaccinations. If you’re an unpaid Carer you may eligible to be vaccinated now:

  • Somerset Carers. Please do ensure you register with your surgery to let them know you’re an unpaid Carer
  • For those still shielding and extremely isolated until restrictions are further eased, have you thought about joining a Befriending Service? CCS has a new project called Chat to Connect for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people. Complete the short online registration form and we’ll match you with someone with similar interests and hobbies. We’re also offering one to one virtual support with phones, tablets, laptops, downloading apps, Zoom and Whatsapp
  • Other options include:

Many organisations have also moved online:

2021 feels much more optimistic as things slowly return to normal – why not use these last few weeks of lockdown to explore some hobbies or interests? You never know what new friendships you may find or a new interest that puts a spring in your step!

Staying warm this winter

Village Agent top tips for staying warm and well this winter:

  • Check out the energy saving advice on the Energy Saving Trust website
  • Contact the Centre for Sustainable Energy to find a better rate  – if you haven’t changed energy supplier in over a year you are guaranteed to save money by changing!
  • if you’re not very mobile, are 65 or over or have a health condition, heat your home to at least 18 degrees Centigrade
  • use a hot water bottle to keep warm in bed
  • have hot drinks often and at least one hot meal a day
  • draw curtains at dusk and close doors to block out draughts
  • get your heating system checked by a qualified professional

If you would like to help someone facing fuel poverty, you could consider donating your winter fuel allowance to the Somerset Community Foundation. SCF then work with us to allocate the donated fuel allowance to those in need. This year, many will need to stay at home to keep themselves safe and will find themselves cut off from family and friends and facing higher costs to heat their homes. Your donations will help us make sure around 500 vulnerable older people across Somerset have the support they need to get through the winter.

You could also consider joining our Community Oil Buying Scheme to ensure that you benefit from the best bulk buying discounts on your heating oil. We receive 50 per cent of the small annual membership fee, which goes into our Crisis Fund.

Talking Cafes are still LIVE, 11am, weekdays on Facebook.

Covid-19 vaccinations in Somerset

Health and care teams across Somerset are working exceptionally hard to roll out our local Covid-19 vaccination programme in Somerset in line with the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation’s prioritisation and they are continuing to vaccinate people aged 80 and over, care home residents and staff, as well as widening out the offer to frontline health and social care staff.

It is known that patients and all health and care staff are eager to find out when they will receive their Covid vaccination. The NHS is prioritising vaccinating those people who, experts have agreed, will benefit from it the most and they are systematically working through all eligible groups according to the national priorities.

Please do not call or turn up at your GP surgery or the local hospital to enquire about Covid vaccinations.

People are asked to support the NHS:

  • by not contacting GPs and health services about vaccinations. You will be contacted when it is your turn to be invited for your vaccination. Some phone lines are jammed with people asking about vaccinations and this is preventing people who need help from getting through
  • when contacted, please attend your booked appointments
  • please continue to follow all the guidance to control the spread of the virus and save lives

Please continue to attend any appointments as planned – if there is a requirement to change any details for your vaccination appointment you will be contacted directly.

Covid vaccine roll-out

The Lister House Patient Participation Group have been asked to spread the word that the Covid vaccination programme is being managed centrally and Lister House Surgery has no say in who gets the Covid vaccination or when. People will be contacted direct by a central vaccination team giving details of when and where they are required to attend for their vaccination. The surgery also ask that patients do not to contact the surgery to ask for information relating to the vaccination programme as the high number of calls they are receiving is delaying patients with other concerns from getting through.

A clinic will be starting at the end of this week (15 January) in Wellington. Those called so far have received a telephone call rather than a letter, due to sickness at the Royal Mail in Wellington causing problems with the post.

It is understood that two large scale vaccination centres will be starting up in Somerset very shortly so the roll-out of the vaccine should speed up very soon.

Hopefully, if you are eligible, the phone should ring very soon with your appointment.

John Muir conservation award scheme

My son Dylan is working his way through a John Muir conservation award and as part of that he learned about the Somerset County Council Adopt Footpath Scheme which has been a lifeline through lockdown both physically and mentally. We have adopted a stretch of the Somerset coastal path from Lilstock to East Quantoxhead and also a circular route just by Auton Dowells.

One aspect of the John Muir award is to create your own project to help conserve local nature and so Dylan has decided to promote the Adopt a Footpath Scheme to families. Only about 7 per cent of footpaths in Somerset are adopted which helps to keep them actively used and through walking them regularly and reporting any issues, dealt with quicker by the Council. I have found it a great way to engage Dylan (12) in not just community action, but in getting outside with purpose.

Further information on Dylan’s Community efforts from Beth at

Beth French

Milverton Recyclers

The Milverton Recyclers came about by happy accident nearly 5 years ago. Compared to the Welly Wheelers, we are rank amateurs, averaging 11 miles an hour over 25 miles in and around Milverton.

I see my stats say I have cycled up Mount Everest 6 times since January 1st! Some of us have turned to ebikes, probably because our average age is over 70! Occasionally, we do longer routes, spread over several days.

We have cycled from Watchet to West Bay (56 miles) in one day, and from Ilfracombe to Plymouth (108 miles) over three days. Plans are afoot to cycle from the Irish Sea to the North Sea by Hadrian’s Wall.
I think I can say it for all of us, it’s a brilliant way to get out to see the countryside, have fun and increase our physical and mental well-being, although it does hurt when we come off, which has happened occasionally – to some more than others!!

Contributed by William Waddington