Councillors have come out in support of a campaign to redevelop Royston Hospital, rather than enhancing the town's existing health centre.

The former hospital site is under threat of closure - but campaigners want to turn it into a health and social care hub for the town, arguing that the health centre building is not fit for purpose.

HealthAid Royston - formerly the Friends of Royston Hospital - are proposing that the redeveloped hospital site could contain GP practices, community nurses, physiotherapy and social workers all working alongside each other, reducing pressure on already oversubscribed services in the town.

Royston Crow: Cllr Chris HinchcliffCllr Chris Hinchcliff (Image: Courtesy of Cllr Chris Hinchcliff)

Chris Hinchliff, Labour and co-operative councillor for Royston Palace, said: "The lack of GP appointments and difficulty of reaching health services is one of the issues that comes up time and again when I talk to local residents, so retaining and enhancing a hugely important asset like Royston Hospital could not be more important.

"Evidence from other parts of the country shows by creating integrated health and social care hub in Royston we can substantially reduce avoidable health admissions and bed blocking.

"With a rapidly growing town and immense pressure on our existing health services, making innovative use of land already owned by the NHS could deliver big benefits to Royston whilst saving time and money at the same time.

"I hope the NHS will drop the proposals to sell Royston Hospital and take the opportunity to look again at the clear and credible plans to use the site to meet the town’s future health needs."

Royston Crow: Cllr Fiona HillCllr Fiona Hill (Image: Herts County Council)

The campaign has also received the support of North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald, and Conservative county councillor Fiona Hill, who represents Royston East and Ermine.

Cllr Hill said: "I have been working, over many years, with Sir Oliver Heald KC MP, in conjunction with the NHS and county council, together with the CIC, GPs, councillors, numerous stakeholders and campaign groups, to progress an integrated health and social care facility in Royston.

"This included a meeting with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The focus has predominantly been on the current Royston Hospital site and my ambition, vision and commitment to achieve a health and social care hub, which is vital to serve Royston and the surrounding villages, remains as strong as ever."

Royston Crow: Cllr Steve JarvisCllr Steve Jarvis (Image: North Herts Council)

Liberal Democrat Councillor Steve Jarvis, for Royston West and Rural division, added: "Royston badly needs better health care facilities, particularly as the town in growing, and these should ideally all be located together.

"The current health centre is not suitable for this and the hospital site is an obvious alternative location.

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"Unfortunately the government’s rules about NHS property makes it much more difficult than it should be to fund new health facilities of this sort, but hopefully it will be possible to overcome this and get the facilities that residents need."

The last beds at Royston Hospital were removed in 2012, but the hospital still operates some outpatient services - including Royston and District Community Transport and physiotherapy.