Hospital owner vows 'never again' as liquidator called in
- Credit: Colin Finch
A business owner has vowed he will never own a hospital again as liquidators have been called in.
Cawston Park hospital, near Aylsham, which cares for people with learning disabilities, will close down by May 14 with the loss of 120 jobs.
It follows a long struggle by its owner, Tugay Akman of the Dereham-based Jeesal Group, for the hospital to meet Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards.
Mr Akman said: "Because the hospital is unable to trade there is no longer a going concern. That is why we called in liquidators.
"I will never own a hospital again. It's a lose-lose situation - there are so many people pulling in different directions."
Mr Akman said the 10 residential care homes across Norfolk run under the separate, sister company Jessal Care would be unaffected.
He said the liquidators would sell off Cawston Park's assets including equipment and vehicles along with its debts.
The future of the hospital site itself, including the former Cawston Manor buildings, are owned separately by Jeesal's holding company, Jessal Akman Care Corporation Ltd.
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Mr Akman said it was unclear what would happen to the site.
"We need to consult with the community and find out what the best use for it is," he said.
Mr Akman said there had been discussions with companies about potential uses for the different buildings on the site, and they would possibly be used independently of each other in the future.
Clinical commissioning groups in Norfolk and nearby counties including Cambridgeshire and Essex have been working on relocating the hospital's remaining patients, of which there were around 10 earlier this month.
The Care Quality Commission first served the hospital a 'proposal to close' notice in April last year, but it was able to continue operating after putting together a plan of how it would improve.
The health watchdog had prevented the site from taking on further patients in 2019 after putting it in special measures following several 'Inadequate' or 'Requires Improvement' ratings.
When the CQC served a second 'proposal to close' notice earlier this month, the hospital's board made the decision to close it.
"As of receiving that letter it became impossible to do anything about it," Mr Tugay said. "Everything falls apart when you cannot trade."