New hospital could be built in Norwich within the next five years

Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A new multi-million pound hospital could be built in Norwich in the next five years, we can today reveal.

Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road. Photo: Mike Page

Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road. Photo: Mike Page

Plans are being drawn up to overhaul the 'ageing, inefficient' Norwich Community Hospital on Bowthorpe Road, to provide a 'new, modern community hospital' on the same site.

The news quells growing fears that part of the site could be sold off to the Homes and Communities Agency for housing.

More than three acres of land at the hospital was last month identified by health chiefs as being surplus.

But Mark Page, NCHC assistant director of estates and facilities, said the organisation was looking to redevelop the site - and also to 'move towards more care being provided in the community'.

West Norwich Hospital Main site - September 24th, 1997. Photo: Archant

West Norwich Hospital Main site - September 24th, 1997. Photo: Archant


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He said: 'Norwich Community Hospital is an important site for the trust and will continue to be so in the future. But the site faces number of challenges including an ageing estate, vacant buildings and a need for efficiencies in the management of the estate.

'The redevelopment of the site allows the trust to continue to support its patient population and moves towards more care being provided in community.'

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Previously the site was home to West Norwich Hospital and much earlier a workhouse. Many of the original buildings were destroyed in the Second World War.

The overhaul of the site would take place over the next five years and a spokesman previously said 'the provision of a new hospital on this site is central to these plans'.

Woodlands Hospital during the Blitz in the Second World War, photo dated 30th April 1942. Photo: Arc

Woodlands Hospital during the Blitz in the Second World War, photo dated 30th April 1942. Photo: Archant Library

Mr Page added: 'The trust plans to redevelop the Norwich Community Hospital site in order to provide a new, modern community hospital here for the populations it serves.'

It is not yet clear how much the revamp would cost, but Mr Page said the work would be 'cost neutral' and 'facilitated through the delivery of a number of new uses of the site that will be complementary to the hospital and healthcare we provide'.

It is understood all the current services at the hospital would remain, including inpatient rehabilitation and stroke care alongside a range of outpatient services. But Mr Page said other services could also be moved there from other sites in the future.

He said public consultations on the proposals would take place and more details would be revealed soon. To register an interest email norwichcommunityhospital@glhearn.com or call 0344 225 0003.

Nursing staff and patients in the surgical ward at the
West Norwich Hospital, Bowthorpe Road, Norwi

Nursing staff and patients in the surgical ward at the West Norwich Hospital, Bowthorpe Road, Norwich. 24 May 1952. Photo: Archant Library

How does this fit with the region's health plan?

As the healthcare overhaul in our region - known as the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) - continues to develop it is believed more attention will turn to NCHC.

The organisation is central to the NHS' aim nationally of transferring more care out of acute hospitals and into the community. And demand on the trust is likely to increase.

As part of the STP, health chiefs want more patients to be treated in the community and in their homes through services NCHC's 3,000-strong workforce is already providing, rather than going to hospitals.

Health bosses in the region have earmarked £300m of savings between now and 2021 as the cash squeeze tightens and demand for services increases. They have also come up with £150m of proposed investment under their STP, which is one of 44 across the country. The plan was first published in November after being approved by the Department of Health.

History

The site of Norwich Community Hospital has a long history in healthcare and was first home to the Norwich Incorporation Workhouse, built between 1859 and 1860. And the first workhouse infirmary appears on maps from 1883.

A nurses' home, known as Woodlands, was built in 1903. In 1911 the infirmary was extended with the addition of a three-storey administration block and a women's ward. A men's ward, to replace the infirmary, was planned in 1911 but was not built until 1939.

By that time the workhouse had become a public assistance institution. But the main building was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, although the infirmary and Woodlands survived.

By 1948 the site was known as the West Norwich Hospital. And in 2005 - after a £1m investment - the site re-opened as Norwich Community Hospital. A few of the surviving buildings remain today.

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