Campaigners continue fight to save Royston Hospital amid new hope

Royston Hospital Action Group organised a protest in the town centre on Saturday. Pictured is Terry

Royston Hospital Action Group organised a protest in the town centre on Saturday. Pictured is Terry Hutt, Margaret Hunter, Sue Ackroyd, Chris Cowsley, Martin Booth, Phil Ward, Hannah Cowsley and Martin Bainger - Credit: Archant

CAMPAIGNERS fighting the closure of a hospital have been out in force gathering public support amid new hope it could yet be saved.

Members of the Royston Hospital Action Group (RHAG) took to the streets of Royston on Saturday and yesterday (Wednesday) to campaign against the hospital’s closure and emphasise the need for NHS beds to remain in the town.

Around 700 leaflets supporting the cause were signed by the public on Saturday, when campaigners were joined by members of public service trade union UNISON, who work at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Despite a 5,000-signature petition in opposition, the hospital site in London Road was put up for sale in December last year under plans to redevelop it as a 40-bed care home with intermediate NHS beds.

Some services would be transferred to the health centre in Melbourn Street, which is to be expanded.

“The amount of public support and public spirit we’ve had in Royston is fantastic,” said RHAG chairman Chris Cowsley.

“There are some who want it to close but you can count them on one hand – there are thousands of people who feel differently.

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“There are many Royston patients that fall between the acute services at Addenbrooke’s and community care in the home. We need beds in the community and that need is only going to increase as the population ages and grows.”

The group’s vice chairman Sue Ackroyd said a meeting with CATCH, the clinical commissioning body for Cambridge which took over as commissioner for health services in Royston this week, had also given new hope.

She said: “We have been in contact with CATCH and it’s possible that there might be a change of heart, we live in hope. We need to retain NHS community beds and ideally that would be in a hospital.

“We are just trying to get everybody to think about the issue and get these NHS community beds to stay in Royston. A lot of people are concerned and support our campaign to keep beds here.”

RHAG is also trying to get the land where the hospital is situated to be registered as a community asset under the Localism Act.

Mr Cowsley added: “If it falls into private hands the community won’t be able to influence what happens to it and we think that’s entirely inappropriate.”