Hospital may stay where it is after all

RICHARD BATSON Health chiefs want to rebuild Cromer hospital on its existing site, and ditch ambitious plans for a £25m complex on the edge of town, the EDP can reveal.

RICHARD BATSON

Health chiefs want to rebuild Cromer hospital on its existing site, and ditch ambitious plans for a £25m complex on the edge of town, the EDP can reveal.

The move comes after years spent drawing up what appears to be a now abortive project which would have put a combined hospital and surgery on a greenfield site.

The cost is likely to be half the £25m scheme, and will use a big slice of the £11m legacy left to Cromer Hospital in 2000 by local widow Sagle Bernstein.

It signals that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust, which runs Cromer as a satellite unit, wants to go it alone as the bigger scheme looks in danger from countywide health deficits and problems finding a suitable new site.

A decision will not be taken until the N&N board meets on November 17, but an internal memo leaked to the EDP reveals that unions and staff, then the public, will shortly be consulted on decisions affecting Cromer including the redevelopment at Mill Road and closing of 12 in-patient beds on Barclay ward next March.

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The memo says officials plan to meet union representatives about the proposed changes on October 23, and hold an open session for all Cromer staff on November 6.

N and N spokesman Andrew Stronach last night confirmed the plans, and said the change of heart was down to the recent radical changes in the NHS. “We went along with the earlier plans, but things have conspired against it,” he said.

“With the new Norfolk PCT £30m in the red, this new plan does not rely on so much funding from the NHS. It lets us make maximum benefit out of the legacy.”

Rebuilding the hospital would take about 18 months, and involve a three-storey block.

The new MRI scanner and renal units, plus the Allies eye clinic would stay, with the new hospital built around them.

The Overstrand Road surgery, which was earmarked to move into the new complex under the bigger plan, would stay where it is.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb last night said he was encouraged that a clear decision was at last being proposed after a “wasted decade”.

The new scheme was more viable, and was on a site popular with local people in an earlier consultation.

Mr Lamb felt there was a real commitment from the N&N to make it happen.

A public meeting about Cromer Hospital, scheduled for last week, has been rearranged for November 22 in the parish hall at 7pm, after N&N chief executive Paul Forden could not make the earlier date.