By Ewan Foskett
Friday, April 6, 2012
ANGER over the planned closure of Royston’s hospital has resonated in the town since last week’s announcement with campaigners claiming the decision was rushed through.
Residents, GPs and councillors met on Monday to form an action group in response to NHS Hertfordshire’s scheme to transform Royston Hospital into a care home and to move out-patient care permanently to an extended health centre.
The movement of the clinics – which see around 6,000 people a year – to the Melbourn Road site was originally mooted as a temporary solution.
Susan Ackroyd, who organised the ad hoc meeting, said: “From the many views expressed at the meeting, it was clear that a more ambitious plan for community care in Royston and the surrounding area is attractive even in a time of austerity.
“People were clearly upset about Herts Primary Care Trust rushing through their proposal for the future of healthcare in Royston and forcing it upon the town.
“The conversation café earlier this year was managed in such a way as to prevent free debate about healthcare in Royston and doubts were expressed about the biased way the conversation café was reported by the PCT.”
Questions were also raised on how over staffing at the London Road site would be affected with the as yet unnamed group pushing for a state-of-the art facility to be built on the current hospital site.
The PCT announced last Wednesday that the hospital, which was originally paid for by Royston residents but subsequently nationalised with the formation of the NHS, would close next year.
A purpose built care home will be constructed in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and a private company for in-patients and a local care home will take on the sick while the facility is built.
The new facility is expected to be finished in 2015 after two years of construction but has not yet gone to tender.
Royston’s MP, Oliver Heald, welcomed the news the town would retain its clinics but expressed a worry over the long term health provision planned by the PCT.
He said: “I am asking NHS Hertfordshire to outline their plans for the medium term and to know if there will be a legacy for Royston from the sale of the hospital site, which can be used for the medium term.”