Town's health depends on hospital sale

ED FOSS Health care in North Walsham could be transformed by a bold project which would see the existing hospital sold and several different services brought under one roof.

ED FOSS

Health care in North Walsham could be transformed by a bold project which would see the existing hospital sold and several different services brought under one roof.

If the plan went ahead, the current North Walsham War Memorial Cottage Hospital would be put on the market and its neighbour Rebecca House, about to end its role as a mental health unit, would be refurbished and redesigned.

Rebecca House has been in the news for very different reasons in recent months because it was one of five Norfolk units used to look after older people with dementia facing the axe.

Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust own and operate Rebecca House, but bosses declared it surplus to requirements.

If the hospital project were to go ahead, Rebecca House would also take on the town's health centre role and the district nursing team based at Birchwood Surgery.

Most Read

The project is being suggested by bosses at North Norfolk Primary Care Trust, who will present their case to their board today.

Martin Langdon, the PCT's head of performance, said the advantages of taking Rebecca House on were clear.

"The current hospital is not fit for purpose, some parts date from the 1920s or 1930s and it is at the end of its working life.

"This is a chance which will come only once in a lifetime, to end up with a good solid, modern, well set-up building. It is a super opportunity."

Brian Elliott, chairman of the hospital's league of friends, also expressed support.

"We are very enthusiastic about the plan.

"There is a lot of feeling among the public about the current hospital, people will sometimes think about the building rather than the services.

"But the building is old and inefficient, we feel that a move to Rebecca House would improve the services no end, which is so very important."

The estimated cost of the necessary refurbishment work is £400,000 and the issue of buying the building looks set to turn on the sale of the town health centre. The potential sale of the current hospital would generate "significant cash", although the exact amount is unclear.