Fears grow over Royston hospital future

PUBLISHED: 10:41 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 11 May 2010

THE future of Royston Hospital could be in jeopardy once more. The North and East Herts Primary Care Trust (PCT) has blocked plans by the Friends of Royston Hospital to construct a day room costing £250,000. In an email sent to the Friends, the PCT said t

THE future of Royston Hospital could be in jeopardy once more.

The North and East Herts Primary Care Trust (PCT) has blocked plans by the Friends of Royston Hospital to construct a day room costing £250,000.

In an email sent to the Friends, the PCT said this was because the facility "would be in use for very little time" because "the intention is for proposals for the hospital site to be implemented as swiftly as reasonably possible, which would translate to a current expectation for action to happen on the site in 2011".

But the nature of the plans remains shrouded in mystery, leading to fears that the hospital could be under threat of closure.

Jenny Routledge, from the Friends of Royston Hospital, said: "We have no idea what they're planning this time, but closure is always a worry at the back of your mind.

"We've fought to save the hospital three times before, and will do so again if necessary. It is a very important and well-used facility."

Mrs Routledge also expressed the frustration felt by the Friends at being unable to spend cash they have collected to fund projects at the hospital.

"Originally the PCT gave us the go-ahead, and we were really pleased. But then they came back to us and said no, which was very frustrating," she said.

"We've got a lot of money which has been donated by people in this area for the hospital and we are unable to spend any of it."

Mrs Routledge said the hospital had been threatened with closure three times in the last 20 years.

Now Royston MP Oliver Heald has met Anne Walker, the PCT's chief executive, to seek clarification on the hospital's future.

He was told that a review of how and where NHS intermediate beds should be used was currently being carried out, and that this would have implications for Royston.

Mr Heald said: "No one has been prepared so far to provide an assurance that the hospital is safe.

"Royston Hospital has always been greatly valued in the town with its many clinics, and beds for recovering patients.

"It was built on land donated by a Royston family and contributed to by many local people."

The North East Herts MP added that the fact that the Friends had been able to raise substantial funds showed that "Roystonians are still backing their local hospital".

A further meeting is being held on November 16, involving Mr Heald, representatives of the Friends, district councillors Fiona Hill and F John Smith, and Royston GP Dr Peter Gough.

A spokesman for the PCT confirmed that the meeting was taking place to discuss "proposals for Royston Hospital", but declined to elaborate on what the proposals involved.

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