New hope for axed Kelling Hospital ward

Tracey GrayA group campaigning for the re-opening of a hospital ward in north Norfolk are hoping to have their case taken up by the secretary of state for health.Tracey Gray

A group campaigning for the re-opening of a hospital ward in north Norfolk are hoping to have their case taken up by the secretary of state for health.

The members of Kelling Hospital Appeal (KHA) have delivered an appeal dossier to Norman Lamb, MP for north Norfolk and chief parliamentary and political adviser to the deputy prime minister, to be passed onto secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley.

The group unsuccessfully battled to save the 22-bed Lascelles specialist neurological ward at the Kelling Hospital in Holt, and it was shut down in October 2007, after health chiefs said it needed major investment to meet modern standards.

In 2008 the appeal group went to the High Court for a judicial review of the decision by Norfolk Primary Care Trust, claiming the ward was closed without a formal board decision or a proper public consultation.

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But the High Court judge ruled that he was happy with the consultation and that the law did not require the majority view to prevail.

Now they have written to Mr Lamb appealing for him to pass on the dossier, which is based on the submission to the high court and includes consultation documents and a report on a public meeting held during the consultation.

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The group met with Mr Lansley last year, when he was shadow health minister and was visiting north Norfolk to discuss a raft of healthcare issues.

At the time he voiced the opinion that some of the recognition of the value of community hospitals was not finding its way into the decisions by the primary care trusts.

Charles Simeons, a spokesman for the appeal group, said: 'The dossier explains that the application to the High Court failed because the judge pointed out that the law on consultation did not require the PCT to act according to public opinion.

'This is a quite different situation to the views expressed by the secretary of state that the opinions of local people, GPs and organisations are paramount.'

Mr Lamb said he had written to Mr Lansley enclosing the documents and urging him to intervene and look at the appeal proposals, and was now awaiting a response.

The Kelling Appeal also works to help buy equipment for the hospital, and also has a remit to work for benefit of patients.

At the appeal group's annual general meeting held recently, it was reported that a contribution of �20,000 had been promised towards the cost of moving the Pineheath Ward kitchen at the hospital to a larger area, while an ambulance, now no longer needed in the absence of long term patients, had been handed over to the MS Society who were meeting the running costs.

A use is also being sought for the listed chapel at the complex.

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