Cromer Hospital re-build given go-ahead

MARK NICHOLLS Health bosses have given the go-ahead to the £13m re-build of Cromer Hospital in a scheme that will see the closure of beds on the site. The board of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which runs the Cromer operation, agreed to press ahead with a plan that will see the 12-bed Barclay Ward shut down and the Davison Day Procedure Unit and Endoscopy Unit moved within the site.

MARK NICHOLLS

Health bosses have given the go-ahead to the £13m re-build of Cromer Hospital in a scheme that will see the closure of beds on the site.

The board of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which runs the Cromer operation, agreed to press ahead with a plan that will see the 12-bed Barclay Ward shut down and the Davison Day Procedure Unit and Endoscopy Unit moved within the site.

The redevelopment will be funded by the legacies of Sagel Bernstein and Phyllis Cox and see Cromer become a site for day case operations such as hernia and cataract surgery, diagnostics, outpatient facilities, renal dialysis and other routine treatments and clinics.

The board heard that the biggest ever public consultation ever undertaken by the N&N gave a clear message to press ahead with the scheme.

From the process - which saw 70,000 consultation documents sent out - of those who responded 87pc were in favour of siting the new hospital in its current location and 78pc backed a day case model of care.

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As regards the ward closure, 65pc were opposed to it but the board heard the concern was not over the loss of acute beds but of rehabilitation, palliative care and community bed, which is how the Barclay Ward beds have been used in recent years.

The board agreed to pass that issue of concern on to Norfolk Primary Care Trust, which is currently out to public consultation on intermediate care with plans to cut some community beds and close hospitals.

Divisional general manager Melissa Blakeley said: “We still believe there is potential for the PCT to work jointly with us over Cromer if they choose to do so.”

She added: “This has got to be a facility, particularly with it being a legacy, that will serve Cromer not just for the next five years but way beyond.”

Issues such as car parking and the retention architectural features such as the Dutch gable end were raised during the consultation with the board agreeing to consider views during the design process.

Ms Blakeley said: “We will still be able to maintain a significant amount of parking on the site and we have entered in negotiations with the football club to improve their car park to allow hospital staff to use during construction while all hospital on-site parking will be reserved for patients.”

N&N chief executive Paul Forden said it was difficult to assess the impact of the poor financial position of the PCT, which has a £47m deficit, on the project but it was unlikely to jeopardise the plan.

But he also stressed the point: “Without the closure of the closure of the beds, the scheme will not happen.”

The work will take18 months to complete starting in October or November. The board has also consulted with staff and health unions over the plans.

t The N&N board also heard that it is heading for an £800,000 surplus on the current financial year but has to make £8.7m savings from its £307m budget for 2007/08, though it already has a number of efficiency streams in place to meet that. The board receive 150 formal complaints in the third quarter of the year, the lowest for two years.