Muted welcome for Aylsham health plans

The latest plans for a health campus for Aylsham have received a muted welcome from local people. There is relief at plans to pay for nine NHS beds in a new nursing home to be built on the hospital site, rather than five as originally planned.

The latest plans for a health campus for Aylsham have received a muted welcome from local people.

There is relief at plans to pay for nine NHS beds in a new nursing home to be built on the hospital site, rather than five as originally planned. The beds, in a 72-75 bed care home to be run by Runwood Homes, will partly replace those which will be lost when St Michael's hospital closes.

On Tuesday the outline plans for the town's new health centre were approved by NHS Norfolk, which is spending �1m on it. The new health centre will include rehabilitation therapy, specialist neuro-rehabilitation, podiatry, physiotherapy, and speech and language therapy.

Geraldine Lee, a campaigner for St Michael's Hospital, said after the meeting: 'We are torn in Aylsham because we want to keep the hospital, but the nine beds will hopefully be enough for people in the Aylsham area. We are very pleased that it is going to be nine beds rather than five. It takes us back to the situation as it was before 2000.'


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Town council chairman Liz Jones has also welcomed the fact that the community has been consulted.

A telephone survey has been done of local people's views and people also have until June 3 to complete written questionnaires, which are available from Aylsham Care Trust or NHS Norfolk.

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At Tuesday's NHS Norfolk board meeting, west Norfolk councillor Tony Wright said: 'These beds may be enough to cover the need in Aylsham, but I am not sure they are going to be enough to for the people from all around who use the hospital beds.'

NHS Norfolk's deputy chief executive, David Stonehouse, said: 'It is absolutely right that that provision won't meet the needs of the catchment outside Aylsham - that is kind of the point. Our capacity shortfall is in Norwich, and to a lesser extent south Norfolk.'

He said the new beds, including stroke rehabilitation beds, which are being created at Norwich Community Hospital would help to meet that need.

Chairman Sheila Childerhouse said: 'It is important that we get on and make things happen in this case.'

NHS Norfolk will investigate setting up a charity to build the health centre and rent it back to the NHS. The health trust had planned to pay for the building itself, but it does not have enough money because its �13m capital grant from the government for the year is lower than expected.

More detailed plans for the health centre will be finished by September. Building work is due to start at the end of the year, and it is due to be finished by autumn next year. NHS Norfolk has pledged it will not close St Michael's until all the elements replacing it are ready.

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