Board approves Cromer Hospital plan
Richard BatsonA �15m rebuild of Cromer hospital has leapt two more hurdles, and is now set to seek planning permission.The project was given the go-ahead by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital board yesterday, a day after winning the backing of the county's health overview and scrutiny committee.Richard Batson
A �15m rebuild of Cromer hospital has leapt two more hurdles, and is now set to seek planning permission.
The project was given the go-ahead by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital board on Friday, a day after winning the backing of the county's health overview and scrutiny committee.
Now the aim is to submit revised designs to North Norfolk District Council planners next month, start work later this year and have it finished by autumn 2012.
The long-awaited progress for the much-debated and delayed scheme comes despite some concerns about the services to be provided at the revamped unit, which is a satellite of the N&N, with the loss of general anaesthetic surgery and endoscopy diagnostics to the 'mother ship'.
But officials are keen to press ahead with a rebuild that will the number of patients handled at Cromer rise 8,000 to 103,000 a year.
Hospital friends chairman Mary Northway said: 'People are disappointed this seems more of a clinic than a hospital, but it seems the best that is available and there are fears that if it is not passed soon, with all the cutbacks ahead, it could be dead in the water.'
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She pointed out that the new hospital would be the fourth one bought by local people rather than the health service - two in Louden Road, the current site in Mill Road, and now the rebuild there which is being funded by legacies from local millionairesses Sagle Bernstein and Phyllis Cox.
The new hospital will include improved facilities for breast screening, hearing tests, and scope to expand the kidney dialysis unit from eight to 21 stations.
Mrs Northway added that it was hoped the designs would allow scope for adding more services at a later date if funding could be found to provide them locally.
Cromer Hospital Action Group spokesman Michele Nash said the loss of endoscopy was balanced by the gain of other services such as MRI, so 'we are going to have to compromise.'
The group would be holding a public meeting to explain the latest situation.
'There will be some people unhappy but we have done as much as we could and are continuing to talk to the authorities,' she added.
Hospital spokesman Andrew Stronach said a consultation on the designs - not the services - would now take place.
An exhibition of the plans will be at the outpatients area one from 9-5 Monday to Friday next week, with people encouraged to make their views known.
'We have passed a series of hurdles, now we hope to get plans submitted next month, and get on with it,' he added.
At Monday night's Cromer Town Council meeting Mrs Northway added she was 'disappointed and angry' at the plans, especially the glass atrium which just housed a staircase, because so little of original hospital was being saved.
But Tony Nash reminded councillors that 'last time it was turned down for being too clinical.'
He said: 'If we put little things in as objections it could muddy the waters to an extend where it won't happen. We cannot afford to delay.'