Community hospital to open doors

A redeveloped community hospital in North Walsham is due to open to patients from next month.

The �3.7m redevelopment of North Walsham Community Hospital is finished and a new health centre in Aylsham is also nearing completion.

It is anticipated that from May 8 the new community inpatient unit at North Walsham will open to patients, offering them general rehabilitation and care within the new 24-bed ward. The new ward sits alongside the recently refurbished Rebecca House outpatient unit, now to become known as the North Walsham Outpatients Department, on the Yarmouth Road site. This includes a purpose-built physiotherapy suite and minor surgery theatres.

A new health centre in Aylsham is also expected to open in May or June, and shortly after St Michael's Hospital in Aylsham will close.

A progress update was given at a meeting of Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee this week by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C).

The redevelopment of North Walsham Hospital and the construction of the new Aylsham Health Centre were part of a plan which incorporated the closure of St Michael's Hospital and the relocation of services.

Anna Morgan, NCH&C's director of operations, said: 'To minimise disruption to our patients, we are now steadily reducing the number of patients at St Michael's Hospital.

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'Our approach is to discharge appropriate patients from St Michael's in the run up to May 8 and to admit new patients to alternative inpatient units – such as North Walsham, Kelling, Benjamin Court or Norwich Community Hospital. Any patients remaining at the hospital will then be transferred to North Walsham Hospital in stages on May 8, 9 and 10.

'We anticipate that once all patients have been transferred, St Michael's Hospital will close to inpatients. However, outpatient clinics will continue within the old hospital until construction of Aylsham's new health centre is completed, at which point outpatient services will be transferred.' A final report on the new facilities and the closure of St Michael's will be given to the committee in September.

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