Hospital future in balance
THE future of Royston Hospital lies in the balance in the face of sweeping NHS reforms. With the abolition of Royston, Buntingford and Bishop's Stortford Primary Care Trusts on the horizon, Royston town councillors are concerned for the future of the hosp
THE future of Royston Hospital lies in the balance in the face of sweeping NHS reforms. With the abolition of Royston, Buntingford and Bishop's Stortford Primary Care Trusts on the horizon, Royston town councillors are concerned for the future of the hospital. The issued was raised at a meeting of the town council's finance and general purposes committee on Monday evening. Then mayor Cllr Bill Prime reported on a workshop he had attended on the redevelopment of Royston Hospital. Among those at the workshop were county councillors and trust representatives. Cllr Prime, who is chairman of Royston's patient and public involvement forum, told councillors: "At the outset of the meeting it was understood that the option to do nothing over the hospital was not on. "If we did nothing, the danger would be that the trust's successor organisation would not pick up the pieces straight away." With money being pumped into a new hospital at Welwyn there was concern that Royston's hospital may lose funds needed for redevelopment. Cllr Tony Hunter said: "The biggest fear of all to me is that they will now look at that site as a money-spinner. We've got to keep an eye on that. "We need to make sure they don't use it to balance the books in the future." A trust spokesman told The Crow on Tuesday: "We cannot continue to run services in the same way. "We have made no secret of the fact that balancing our books is fundamental to us improving services in the local NHS." Cllr Les Baker told the meeting that he believed the people of Royston were being "led around-and-around in circles" on the future of the hospital. "For more than 10 years we've been promised so much, and all these promises have been broken. "The plans just go on a shelf or in a bin somewhere, and we are no further forward," he said. John de Braux, chief executive of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Strategic Health Authority said he could not comment specifically on the future of Royston Hospital. But he added: "There is a good future for community hospitals. "I know the trust is considering options for the future of Royston Hospital, so it does have a future. "However, community hospitals will be very different things in the future than they were in the past" A Government White Paper is due next month and Mr de Braux believes it will "give people a much clearer idea" on the future of community hospitals. Councillor Fiona Hill said: "It's getting to the stage where we can't believe anything we are told.