December 9 2013 Latest news:
By Anthony Carroll
Friday, September 20, 2013
Lowestoft Hospital looks likely to close its doors to patients in a year’s time after health officials recommended it be shut as part of a major restructuring of NHS services in the town.
The governing body of HealthEast – the clinical commissioning group for Great Yarmouth and Waveney – yesterday approved the proposals at its meeting in Beccles.
Members endorsed a recommendation to close the hospital in Tennyson Road by autumn next year – ending more than 150 years’ service to the local community.
Under the approved recommendations some health services would move to the Kirkley Rise Medical Centre, which in March and is now set to be expanded.
A new health centre would also be built in the north of the town and an “out of hospital team” set up to provide care in patients’ homes.
The recommendations follow a public consultation which, according to HealthEast, saw more than two thirds of respondents saying they agreed with the plans to close the hospital.
Speaking before yesterday’s meeting, HealthEast chief executive Andy Evans said: “Just under 68pc of people voted for the preferred option. It was a pretty overwhelming decision by them.
“The plans are about looking to the future and we are committed to providing health services in the north and south of Lowestoft – something we have never really had before.”
Mr Evans said he hoped the hospital site would eventually house a care home and sheltered accommodation.
HealthEast launched its 12-week consultation on the future of NHS services in Lowestoft in May. Three public meetings were held and summary documents were sent out, with 625 responses.
A summary of the findings says: “Whilst there is strong affection for Lowestoft Hospital, there is an understanding that modern healthcare needs to be provided in modern facilities for the people of Lowestoft.”
Included in the consultation was a separate option to keep Lowestoft Hospital open which was backed by 35.7pc of the respondents.
Pat Rayner, chairman of the Friends of Lowestoft Hospital, said: “I was disappointed with the results of the consultation but they were not really unexpected, given the option preferences expressed in the questionnaire.”
After yesterday’s meeting, the proposals approved by HealthEast will be discussed by the boards of the James Paget University Hospital and East Coast Community Healthcare before a final decision on October 24.