Hospital up for sale

ROYSTON Hospital has moved a step closer to closure after the site was put up for sale.

NHS Hertfordshire insists the move is part of the process already set out for the hospital, which is set to become a privately-run care home with NHS intermediate beds.

But campaigners fighting the closure are disappointed the site is now being advertised on the open market, having hoped that decisions on its future would be delayed until the new year.

The advert, on the Property Gazette website, says: “Royston Hospital is offered for sale on the basis that the successful bidder will be expected to secure planning permission, construct, maintain and deliver services for a minimum 40-bed care home on the site.”

A design brief for the site, seen by the Crow, also raises the prospect of housing being built on the site alongside a care home.

It states: “Residential development is not acceptable unless it meets an identified rural housing need. Justification will therefore have to be put forward within the planning application for the enabling residential development part of the proposal, eg, the capital generated by the enabling development will be invested in health facilities in Royston.”

Doctors in Royston are joining the Cambridgeshire Association to Commission Health (CATCH) in the new year, and the Royston Hospital Action Group (RHAG) had hoped this would lead to a rethink on plans to close the hospital.

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Susan Ackroyd, from RHAG, said: “We are upset that NHS Hertfordshire is not passing on the decisions about the hospital site to the Cambridgeshire Commissioners who are taking over after Christmas, which was what the Herts chief executive said would happen in their letter to us of October 22.

“RHAG and The Friends should also be involved in planning the future of the hospital site. There is a need to support Addenbrookes with community beds and to ensure overnight nursing and medical supervision of the more serious intermediate care cases.

“We are meeting CATCH soon and will be discussing the issues and calling for inclusion of a community hospital in the healthcare plans.”

A spokesman for NHS Hertfordshire said: “NHS Hertfordshire in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and CATCH, has advertised in the Estates Gazette for a developer for the new independent care home which will include health and social care beds on the Royston Hospital site.

“As a result of the public consultation this marks the next phase in making sure that Royston gets a modern fit-for-purpose health and social care unit.

“We are following the Official Journal of the European Union standard process and have invited expressions of interest and submissions for a pre-qualification questionnaire.

“Developing the new care home is essential to making sure Royston retains services for the future. The home is due to open mid 2015.

“As an interim arrangement, intermediate care beds are being provided in local care homes, with patients supported by the nurses and therapists from Hertfordshire Community Trust.”