Search to find solution for Royston Hospital

A SEARCH to find a temporary site for patients and services who have to move out following the planned closure of Royston Hospital is set to be launched.

The Crow broke the news the community hospital could be shut for at least three years while it is refurbished.

NHS Hertfordshire, The Primary Care Trust, published a report revealing the changes which could see the site shut next year to inpatients – while outpatient services may be transferred to other local centres.

Peter Homent, treasurer of the Friends of Royston Hospital, said: “The PCT and all the local GP practices are 100 per cent behind the Friends’ view that collectively we try to find a single temporary location to keep all the outpatient services in the way they are run now.

“There’s going to be a meeting about that on December 8.”

The Friends had said they were “concerned that the concept of a community hospital in Royston is at risk of being lost during the hiatus between the closure of the present community hospital and the building of a promised care home”.

Fears were also raised over the effect on intermediate care and the provision of geriatric care – but committee members were “relishing” the chance to make positive moves.

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Royston’s MP Oliver Heald welcomed the news that a solution might be found.

He said: “I have spoken to the chief executive of the PCT and explained that it’s very important to keep the 32 clinics that are going on there involved in the process.

“Some of the clinics are from NHS trusts, so it’s important to keep them in the loop.

“I have a meeting with local councillors and Dr Peter Gough (GP at Market Hill Surgery) and we’re going to talk about this and what the views are to see if we can work with the PCT and find a solution that improves NHS provision in the town.”

Jacqui Bunce, PCT programme director, said: “We are pleased that the Friends are talking about the proposals we have presented around the future of Royston Hospital and intermediate care services.

“A new approach for delivering intermediate care has already been agreed by the board of the PCT.

“What we are doing now is consulting on how we can help more patients to be cared for in their own homes and also how we can provide intermediate care beds in more places so that people can be looked after nearer to where they live.

“The proposals specifically for Royston are that in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and Royston GPs, we would find an independent care home provider to redevelop the hospital site to provide purpose-built, modern facilities for intermediate care and residential/nursing home care to serve the local population.

“We would also provide space in a suitable local facility for running outpatient clinics and other services.

“A conversation caf� will be held in Royston early in January. This event will give us the chance to explain more about the proposals and give people an opportunity to give us their views.”

However it is not just patients who could be moved as the hospital is also home to Royston Community Transport and a volunteers group.

The group co-ordinates approximately 80 drivers who use their own cars to transport elderly, frail and disabled people to essential appointments in North Herts and South Cambs.

In a letter the community transport group said: “Any proposal to close Royston Hospital is likely to present us and our sister organisation, Royston Volunteer Bureau, which is also based in the hospital building, with considerable problems, not least the need to find alternative premises.”