Royston Hospital: Health centre option championed by Royston Town Council

AN extension to Royston’s Health Centre to accommodate services and clinics displaced by the planned closure of the town’s hospital were recommended by councillors this week.

A proposal to extend the Melbourn Street building was backed at a full meeting of Royston Town Council after a strong debate.

The PCT plans to close the London Road site while it is redeveloped – which may take three years – with inpatient care moved to local care homes, and outpatient services relocated to three potential sites.

A private care home operator will be sought to pay for the hospital refurbishment and help run the new operation.

The cost of the project is currently unknown as it has not yet gone to tender. Clinics could be sited at an extended health centre, a temporary building on the hospital site, or a revamped industrial unit – which could be used temporarily or permanently.

Members were concerned about the majority of the options, and voted unanimously to support moves to re-inforce and extend the health centre site.

Town councillor Lindsay Davidson attended the conversation caf� last week, which explored the options.

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She believes the move should be permanent to make the planned �800,000 extension viable.

“I feel that we should go for the best we can get for this town and having it in a central location with GPs on hand is the best option, so that people don’t have to traipse to the hospital and back. We’re talking about a combined service for the people,” she said.

“I think the problem is that people are looking at the hospital in a romantic way – we need to look at the hard facts.

“The option to bring the outpatient services into Royston is permanent, not temporary.

“Secondly you can be sure that this is going to happen. We have to go with what we are seeing at the moment.

“We have to go with the best option available. We need to get the best out of this for Royston.”

If the health centre option goes ahead, the building will be clad in steel and a 300 square metre extension will be added to the second floor.

All the outpatient facilities, including a musculo-skeletal services clinic, which sees 6,000 patients each year, will be relocated to the site, as well as the Royston Volunteer Centre and Royston Community Transport.

Councillor F John Smith, who is involved with RCT, also argued that the health centre would provide the best option, but was worried about the timeframe of the works.

He said it was “vital” that services were not left in limbo while the hospital was refurbished and an alternative site prepared.

A reply to the health authority was drafted and will be sent to the PCT as part of its consultation.

This was a modification of a statement previously prepared by Cllr Robert Smith, leader of the council.

Last week members of the Royston and district commitee formed a working party to consider the options and prepare a response.

The consultation closes on February 3.

Concern was also raised at the meeting about staffing arrangements.

A spokesman for NHS Hertfordshire said this week: “Changes will have an impact on staff too, and it is important that we consider these implications.

“We know that HCT is engaging with its staff, and all views and comments received from HCT staff will be shared with the PCT and considered at a future board meeting.”