Beds back in Royston after hospital closure

PATIENTS displaced by the emergency closure of Royston Hospital will return to the town on Monday.

After health bosses shut the London Road site in April for staffing reasons, intermediate care patients were moved to Hitchin Hospital, a decision which antagonised politicians.

The NHS had previously promised that no beds would be removed from Royston until there was new provision in the town, with MP Oliver Heald labelling the move a “blunder” and county councillor Fiona Hill telling the Crow she was “appalled”.

Cllr Hill said: “Initially the health authority gave assurances that beds would not be removed from Royston Hospital until more in Royston were provided.

“Then the hospital closed and there were no beds for local patients. Since then we have been pushing to get the beds back into Royston.

“I’m pleased we have got the beds back into Royston but I’m not happy about the overall situation.”

Intermediate care services for people living in and around Royston will be provided in Richard Cox House in Dog Kennel Lane.

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This is to help older people recover after a stay in hospital or to provide the extra support to prevent them having to go into wards in the first place.

The new ‘home from home’ service is a joint venture run by Quantum Care and Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) on behalf of NHS Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire County Council.

Julie Hoare, the director of operations at HCT, said: “Our first priority is the patients affected by the move out of Hitchin Hospital and making sure the transfers go smoothly for them and their relatives.

“Our staff have also been very involved in preparations for the changes and most of them have been offered suitable posts by the Trust so that voluntary redundancies will be kept to a minimum.”

The patients will return to the town weeks after North Herts District Council rubber stamped a �1m extension to the Melbourn Street Health Centre that will take services displaced by the redevelopment of Royston Hospital.

Campaigners have been fighting NHS plans to transform it into a care home with more than 4,000 signatures opposing the revamp collected by Terry Hutt, who hopes to present them to the Prime Minister.

He said: “No-one was happy, especially their relatives.

“What else can they do without telling anyone, that’s the bottom line.”