�3m = the cost of a failed hospital
THE failed project to build a new community hospital in Clevedon has cost the NHS about �3million.
The money has been spent since 2009 on planning the new facility, which was due to be built on land at Millcross and opened in 2014.
In July, it was announced the scheme had been shelved following fresh analysis of the future healthcare budgets for North Somerset.
The decision has since prompted the district’s MP, Dr Liam Fox, to write to health bosses asking why the decision was taken so soon before building work was due to start in September and what plans are being put in place for future healthcare provision.
The League of Friends of Clevedon Hospital, which has raised thousands toward equipment at the town’s current hospital, has also been in search of answers. At a recent meeting with NHS representatives, it was asked whether they could guarantee all services available at the Old Street hospital would continue.
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Programme director for joint PCTs, Ben Bennett said: “It is very hard to make those promises.
“We’ve made no plans to close beds but people are right to ask the question.”
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NHS North Somerset is currently surveying the facility to ensure up-to-date views on its services are used when planning future options for healthcare across North Somerset.
Firm details of such future plans are not expected until the New Year. Meanwhile, the friends have vowed to keep fighting the cancellation.
Secretary John Powell said: “We’re not giving up on this fight – this meeting was a preliminary skirmish.
“I recently had a tour of the current hospital and was shocked at what I saw. It really is no longer fit for purpose.”
Whether the site at Millcross will factor in future healthcare plans also remains to be seen but it seems likely the land will be sold.
Mr Bennett said: “They [the CCG] are looking at services and what existing buildings can be used for.
“If we sell Millcross, we could get back about half, or maybe more, of the �3million spent.”
In April, NHS North Somerset will be replaced by a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) made up of representatives from all 26 GP practices across the district, which will make future decisions about healthcare in the district.
To make savings, each CCG has been told by Government it must plan its annual budgets with a two per cent buffer of funds not allocated to a specific use.
According to Mr Bennett, this is the main reason it was decided not to go ahead with the hospital - the annual rent for the facility would have cost about �900,000, not including the funds needed to provide the services within it.
Mr Bennett added: “The CCG has got to be spending about �6million less than it is at the moment.
“This was going to be a 25-year rental agreement - it was about affording it year on year.”