Step forward for £8m hospital

An £8m new hospital for North Walsham and £1.2m Aylsham health centre have taken a step forward after winning the backing of health officials.The double dose of good news came as outline business case proposals for the schemes at cherished cottage hospital sites were moved forward by NHS bosses.

An £8m new hospital for North Walsham and £1.2m Aylsham health centre have taken a step forward after winning the backing of health officials.

The double dose of good news came as outline business case proposals for the schemes at cherished cottage hospital sites were moved forward by NHS bosses.

At North Walsham, a new 24-bed complex is planned for the former Rebecca House mental care unit next door to the hospital. It would also include a new GP surgery replacing the two present ones, offering minor surgery and possibly midwifery.

But a report rules out a possible relocat-ion of the hospital to the Lawns site being vacated under Paston College's plans to shift to a new site, saying there are potential problems with getting the site, planning consent and traffic congestion.


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It says the existing hospital is unsuitable as it could only house 17 beds, while the ward layout does not help privacy and dignity and patients going to therapy areas have to be moved under covered walkways. It would be demolished once the new unit is built.

The Aylsham centre is part of a redevel-opment of the old St Michael's Hospital site that also includes a community centre with daycare services, housing with care complex and a care home with nursing. It would have five beds comm-issioned from Aylsham Care Trust's nursing care home. But, after concerns from locals including GPs, officials say this figure may rise if information on a need for more beds becomes clearer.

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NHS Norfolk was told there was strong local opposition to the closure of inpatient wards but that the plans would result in an exciting health campus at Aylsham.

The aim was to provide other services including benefits advice, education and skills to increase employability. Others could include baby massage, carpet bowls, tai chi, weight management help and groups to help people give up smoking.

The centre could be running by December 2009, with St Michael's not closing until the following year. A timescale for North Walsham is still unclear.

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