Alterations at cottage hospital

Clevedon's cottage hospital in Old Street

Clevedon's cottage hospital in Old Street - Credit: Archant

ALTERATIONS and repairs are taking place at Clevedon’s cottage hospital ahead of a report which will unveil what needs to be done to make its buildings sustainable for the future.

NHS North Somerset will spend about £180,000 before the end of this financial year on repairs at the Old Street site as well as relocating its minor injuries unit (MIU).

Next month, a full report will be published giving the results of a building survey commissioned in the autumn following the cancellation of the project to build a new community hospital at Millcross.

Currently, work is being carried out to convert a space in the newer building at the Old Street facility, previously used for endoscopy services, into a new MIU consultation room at a cost of about £40,000. The remaining £140,000 is being spent on structural repairs as well as replacement flooring and sinks.

Joint primary care trust director Ben Bennett said: “If you go to the MIU in the old building and you need an X-ray you have to walk over to the new building for it.

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“It makes sense to have the consultation room next to the X-ray.”

Yesterday (Tues), at a meeting of the governing body of the North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which will take over the running of health services in the area from April, members were due to be given a brief update on what else needs to be done to bring the buildings up to standard. A full report will be presented at the board’s March meeting before progress is then made on future plans.

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Mr Bennett said: “The things we do know are that we need to put back into place a basic maintenance programme and there are some shortcomings with the buildings which need to be addressed.

“The outpatient unit is too small. If you go to a modern rehab unit the amount of space each bed has is much greater.

“The quality of care is really good but the patient environment is really old fashioned.

“The question we asked the surveyors was can we adapt the building to get near to the modern space standards and the answer was we cannot.

“This doesn’t mean the service will simply close.

“It does mean that in the long term we need to figure out another way of providing those beds.

“We want to keep using that building.”

Mr Bennett said the CCG is also in discussions with the North Bristol Trust, which provides the cottage hospital services, to see when it can replace much of the equipment there.

In a recent letter to CCG chairman Dr Mary Backhouse, North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox said he believes it is essential that in future the hospital has improved X-ray facilities, improved ultrasound capabilities and better access to consultant services.

His letter also asks for assurances that gynaecology services will return to Clevedon as soon as a new ultrasound is in place and that ‘a proper, informed debate’ is held over the number, type and location of beds serving the local population.

* Meanwhile, the company which was tasked with building the new hospital, Amber Solutions for Care, is preparing a case to recoup some of the money it has lost as a result of the scheme being cancelled.

Director Richard Darch says he recognises the original tender process was ‘an open competition’ so will not be claiming all costs, only those incurred when his company was asked to redesign the hospital to a smaller budget in March.

He said: “When you are asked to do additional work to make the scheme affordable and then told it no longer is, that is very frustrating.

“It is only right and fair that we get some recompense for the additional work.”

Following the cancellation, Mr Darch created a proposal for an alternative, more affordable way of delivering the hospital, using money from the sale of the cottage site in Old Street. A similar model was used to build a community hospital in Henley-on-Thames, using money from the sale of unwanted land to fund it.

However, he says NHS North Somerset has been unwilling to discuss the idea.

He said: “The PCT is very clear that procurement has been terminated.

“We hoped we could’ve put an alternative forward using money from the cottage site. It has been delivered elsewhere and it has worked.

“All we wanted was to put that forward and then have a dialogue around it.”

Ben Bennett said: “We don’t normally comment on ongoing commercial discussions.”

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