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Loss of momentum fear over North Walsham hospital plan

PUBLISHED: 16:43 24 March 2010 | UPDATED: 10:27 13 July 2010

Campaigners fear the momentum behind plans to redevelop a north Norfolk hospital could be lost after it was announced the proposals would not go before NHS chiefs until July.

CAMPAIGNERS fear the momentum behind plans to redevelop a north Norfolk hospital could be lost after it was announced the proposals would not go before NHS chiefs until July.

The plans, which have been the subject of years of campaigning, would see a 24-bed unit built at North Walsham Community Hospital and the refurbishment of Rebecca House.

Last month, a meeting with NHS Norfolk called by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb left supporters of the hospital feeling optimistic that progress was finally being made.

It had been hoped a formal update on the plans would go before the NHS Norfolk board at its meeting last month - but that did not happen.

Last week, the Trust announced that a “fully worked” proposal for the refurbishment of Rebecca House

was set to go before health chiefs in July, with plans for the 24-bed unit not due to be looked at until September.

Wendy Hardicker, NHS Norfolk's assistant director of out-of-hospital care, said community representatives had been and would continue to be fully informed of progress as the project developed. She added: “The redevelopment of North Walsham Community Hospital would be a major undertaking for us and detailed planning is essential to ensure it meets the healthcare needs of the local population.”

Brian Elliott, the hospital friends' chairman, said the news quashed hopes work on site at Rebecca House could begin as early as October.

He said: “I'm not at all happy. I can't see how they can possibly start work on site. We were very impressed with how Norman Lamb had got them going and created this momentum - but it seems that momentum is being lost.”

Mr Lamb said while he welcomed a specific timescale being set for the plans he was disappointed that it would not be earlier.

He said: “I'm concerned this looks like a longer timescale than we believed was the case. I stressed at our last meeting the absolute importance of maintaining momentum and avoiding any slippage.”

The MP said he would continue to press for another meeting to update supporters in May as well as a public exhibition and public meeting to allow the North Walsham community to have their say on the plans.


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