Three towns have come together to improve health care for the residents in their area.

Axminster health Needs, LymeForward and Seaton Area Health Matters have joined forces to create the Axe Valley Health Forum.

Following feedback from each community through surveys, conversations and patient participation groups, it was decided there is greater strength and a stronger voice if the three towns work together, covering a population of 40,000.

The forum will be made up of elected community representatives who will work with the NHS on the delivery of a health and care model that fits that demographic.

The vision is to establish a place-based system of care, designed to focus health and social care provision on the specific needs of the people of the Axe Valley.

The forum’s prime objective will be to identify where improvement is needed in service delivery, as well as identify good practice and encourage it across the whole of the Axe Valley.

Collaborative work within the Axe Valley has included the recent expansion of the Hospiscare at Home service from Seaton to Axminster.

This has been entirely funded by the league of friends and offers end of life care.

Steve Holt, of Axminster Hospital League of Friends, said: “In both my position as treasurer of the Axminster League of Friends and as a campaigner to save the beds in the hospital, I know how difficult it is to get the health service providers seriously interested in populations of 10 to 15,000.

“The joint approach between Seaton and Axminster to extend the Hospiscare at Home provision has shown what can be achieved when we pool our resources.”

East Devon district councillor, Ian Hall, is helping lead this initiative.

Cllr Richard Scott, of Devon County Council, said: “The work Cllr Hall and his colleagues are undertaking in the Axe Valley is fundamental in shaping the provision of health and social care at a community level.

“All communities need to work with the authorities responsible for health and social care to ensure the needs of the community are met with preventive and mental health, giving equal status to physical health.

“The Axe Valley Forum is a key driver in the community conversation we require all stakeholders to have and will drive in its locality to ensure the provision of health care is driven by need.”

A spokesperson for LymeForward said: “LymeForward welcomes any initiative that improves access to quality health care for the residents of Lyme Regis, Uplyme and Charmouth.”