Health chiefs answer Cromer Hospital fears
Richard BatsonConcerns about the �15m rebuild of Cromer hospital have been answered by health chiefs, who are keen to push ahead with the long-awaited project.Local people have voiced anger about the loss of some services including endoscopy internal diagnostics to Norwich in the much-delayed redevelopment which has hit a series of funding and approval hurdles over more than a decade.Richard Batson
Concerns about the �15m rebuild of Cromer hospital have been answered by health chiefs, who are keen to push ahead with the long-awaited project.
Local people have voiced anger about the loss of some services including endoscopy internal diagnostics to Norwich in the much-delayed redevelopment which has hit a series of funding and approval hurdles over more than a decade.
But a report to a health watchdog body says the �3m cost of local endoscopy is too expensive for the Cromer project and would only benefit a relative low number of patients - roughly half the 3,000 people who would face a trip to Norwich under the changes.
Rebuild plans would increase patient numbers at Cromer from 96,000 to 103,000 a year, with services concentrating on 'high volume, low clinical risk' procedures, along with more diagnostics.
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A new MRI scanner would be provided for up to 4,000 patients a year, as part of a broader plan to boost the number at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital from two to three to cope with rising demand.
Following earlier problems with a second-hand scanner based at Cromer which stayed shut much of the time because of problems staffing it, the hospital was now 'growing its own' specialists through training, it assured.
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There were also plans to relocate the kidney dialysis unit from a temporary building to a refurbished ward block, increasing the number of stations from eight to 21. Earlier plans refused to move the unit saying it was impossible because of the need for high grade water supplies, but officials say technology changes mean it is now feasible.
Other plans include:
Extended local anaesthetic surgery to tackle skin problems, varicose vein laser work, and removal of kidney and bladder stones with ultra sound.
A permanent breast screening unit handling another 1,500 women a year
New hearing services for 1,000 children a year
The officials' views will be put to the county health overview committee next Thursday , stressing that a public consultation saw 65pc of people in favour of the plans, and 89pc urging them to 'get on with it.'
Spokesman Andrew Stronach said they were hoping for a positive outcome, which could be taken to the hospital board for a decision the following day.
'People are broadly supportive of what we are planning. We are conscious some people are disappointed with some aspects. We cannot do everything for everybody, but we aim to do the best we can for the most we can - and we want to get it moving. Everyone is fed up with the delays, including us.'
Cromer hospital action group spokesman Michele Nash agreed there was a need to press ahead, but that they were still unhappy and would challenge some of the figures and findings in the report particularly over endoscopy.
Work on the Cromer hospital, which contributes about �7m a year to the local economy and employs about 200 staff, should start early this year and it is due to be open in 2012.
The project will mostly be paid for by legacies left by local women Sagle Bernstein and Phyllis Cox.