Cost-cutting puts stress on hospital

Richard BatsonCost-cutting options for new hospitals in Cromer and North Walsham would put extra stress on bed-blocked wards at Norwich, health chiefs were told at a meeting in north Norfolk.Richard Batson

Cost-cutting options for new hospitals in Cromer and North Walsham would put extra stress on bed-blocked wards at Norwich, health chiefs were told at a meeting in north Norfolk.

Two officials stepped into the firing line to be quizzed by members of the local Old People's Forum.

Members said the axing of community beds would not help

the often-full Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and the latest plans ignored the pressures caused by a growing population and scant rural transport.

Distrust of health service decision-makers, and frustration at a lack of "joined-up thinking" constantly boiled to the surface during the session.

Forum members wanted to know why the latest Cromer plans saw the project cut from a �25m building to a �15m scheme using just legacy money - and involving the loss of endoscopy and general anaesthetic surgery to Norwich.

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There was also concern about lack of public consultation on a recently-revealed option of replacing North Walsham Memorial Cottage Hospital with NHS beds in a care home - which is set to be discussed by NHS Norfolk's board at their meeting in King's Lynn next Tuesday.

And, after officials said they could answer questions about their own health sector, one member of the audience called for more "joined up thinking" on the way health and care services were planned.

Julie Cave, director of resources at the N&N which is responsible for Cromer Hospital, said there was not enough money to provide all the services people wanted at the unit - but assured people the legacy cash would not be grabbed for the general health pot.

While some expensive services would be transferred to the N&N, new and expanded services would be available in Cromer, including minor "lumps and bumps" surgery and a permanent breast screening unit.

Graham Copsey, assistant director of estates commissioning with NHS Norfolk, said no decision had been taken on North Walsham, and the board could still recommend the earlier proposal, to replace the current 17-bed hospital with a dedicated 24-bedded unit.

Consultations are continuing over the Cromer plans, through a questionnaire which asks if health chiefs have made the right decisions in prioritising services.

Comments on the Cromer Hospital proposals must be made before December 18. Call 01603 287200 or e-mail

To register views on North Walsham Hospital either write to: FREEPOST RRTX-RHYX-RYZG, NHS Norfolk, Communications and Patient and Public Involvement, Lakeside, 400 Old Chapel Way, Broadland Business Park, NR7 0WG or e-mail: yourviewsmatter@norfolk.

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