First phase of North Walsham health campus opens its doors to outpatients
The first phase of North Walsham's new health campus has opened its doors to patients.
The physiotherapy unit at revamped Rebecca House began accepting patients on Friday and a range of other clinics and services will be opening there over the coming months.
An estimated �1.6m has been spent converting Rebecca House, a former 24-bedded unit for elderly patients, which has been empty for five years.
And yesterday about 80 people were given conducted tours of the new facilities. Those invited included representatives from the health service, local councillors, the hospital's friends' group, campaigners, and members of the community involvement panel set up by the NHS to help plan the project.
Visitors were shown two theatres equipped for local anaesthetic day surgery, the physio suite with an attached gym in a conservatory overlooking gardens, six consulting rooms, and spacious offices for community nursing and therapy staff.
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The building also contains a linking corridor which will eventually connect with a new 24-bed ward planned for the site, replacing the current 1920s hospital. It is expected to be ready for patients early next year.
Brian Elliott, chairman of the panel, and of the friends' group, said the opening was the culmination of many years of campaigning to keep hospital facilities in North Walsham for residents of the town and surrounding villages.
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'I think it's fantastic,' he said. 'Now this is complete we are two-thirds of the way there'. He praised co-operation between the friends, health service and the wider community who had backed the project throughout.
Rebecca House will offer all the current outpatient services which have been provided at the hospital site, plus an added respiratory clinic.
And in the autumn social services will move into the building as part of a new emphasis on integrated working between social service and NHS staff. NHS chiefs say Rebecca House has enough space and flexibility to include more services, in consultation with doctors, at a later date.
A service will be held at the old hospital on July 11 at 2.30pm to give thanks for the old building and welcome its successor.