Fears over North Walsham hospital plans
Anthony CarrollNorth Walsham will fight 'tooth and nail' if health chiefs change tack on the future of the town's hospital.Campaigners have said they will dust down 'Save our Hospital' placards if need be after a crunch health meeting next month.Anthony Carroll
North Walsham will fight 'tooth and nail' if health chiefs change tack on the future of the town's hospital.
Campaigners have said they will dust down 'Save our Hospital' placards if need be after a crunch health meeting next month.
Just over two years ago, the people of North Walsham celebrated after they were told that that the town would continue to have a hospital. But the joy of the Save Our Hospital group could turn to anger on November 24 when NHS Norfolk will discuss plans for the War Memorial Cottage Hospital.
It was expected that a new 24-bed hospital would be built as part of a new �8m health campus on the current site to provide essential health services to the town's growing population.
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However, there are fears that the NHS Norfolk board could discuss an alternative plan to set up the hospital beds in care homes that could be built on the health campus.
In July 2007, health chiefs said North Walsham would escape a countywide health site cull and see its bed numbers rise from 17 to 24.
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But the Friends of North Walsham War Memorial Cottage Hospital fear that the �8m health campus plans could suggest the care home hospital bed scheme.
If the NHS Norfolk board meeting moots the scheme, the hospital campaigners could be hitting the streets of the town again.
Brian Elliott, chairman of the hospital's league of friends, said: 'We do not want 24 hospital beds in care homes: the town wants a hospital. If we do not get a hospital, then we have to have another Save Our Hospital campaign and stand up for the town because we want what we were promised. Next month, I just want to hear from NHS Norfolk that it is going ahead with a new 24-bed hospital build - it is as simple as that.'
Joe Turner, former mayor and a leading hospital campaigner, said: 'We want the hospital and the services that go with it, full stop. 'We will go hard for it, tooth and nail. If we don't get what we want, there will be an almighty uproar in the town and the surrounding villages if they have changed their plans.'
If the new hospital is the chosen option, North Walsham War Memorial Cottage Hospital, which was built in the 1920s in memory of the district's first world war dead, will stay open until the new one is completed. The proposed �8m health campus and new hospital could offer therapies, diagnostic services, outpatient clinics, midwifery and family doctors.
NHS Norfolk's assistant director of estates commissioning, Graham Copsey, confirmed that planning for the future of the North Walsham's hospital site was still continuing. He added: 'Options are expected to be presented to the board of NHS Norfolk in Novem-ber. It had been anticipated they would go before the September board but they were delayed because the option appraisal was not ready in time. The options will cover bed-based provision and intermediate care provision.'
Mr Copsey said NHS Norfolk recognised the need for the site to be upgraded and was working with others to find a cost-effective solution to the future of healthcare provision in the area.