Further discussions on community asset plans for Halesworth’s hospital

Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth.
PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Community leaders in Halesworth will meet with those of a nearby town to learn how to save their hospital building by turning it into a community asset.

Both Halesworth's Patrick Stead Hospital and Southwold Hospital were designated for closure as part of HealthEast's plan to replace them with out-of-hospital services back in November 2015.

Town councillors in Halesworth have watched closely the developments in Southwold – where, after the closure of their hospital, a committee was set up to purchase it as a community asset – and feel turning the Patrick Stead into a community hub would be 'very beneficial' to the town.

Last week, Halesworth Town Council, which has already agreed to form a committee to look at possible options, decided to meet with members of Southwold Town Council today to gain advice on how to move forward with this process following their success.

Halesworth Town Clerk, Nick Rees, said: 'At this stage it is very early days, and we are exploring all options and gathering as much information as we can before we go any further.

'The first step is to meet with Southwold, this will help us determine the advantages and disadvantages and if this could line up with the Patrick Stead.

'No formal decision has been made to do this yet, at this moment it is about information gathering and exploring all possibilities.

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'We welcome any ideas or involvement from local residents and businesses who are interested.'

Once purchased, as a community asset the closed hospital could be turned into other uses for the town, such as a library, meeting rooms and offices.

Members of the town council had recently come under attack on social media for 'closing the Patrick Stead Hospital' when in fact the closure was put in force by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Chairman of Halesworth Town Council, Peter Dutton, said: 'It was the CCG that pulled the plug on Patrick Stead, it wasn't the actions of the councillors. It is essential that we work together on this matter for the good of the people in Halesworth for the next three to four years.'

If you are interested in the project, email clerk@halesworthtowncouncil.org.uk