Cottage hospital ‘is not a long-term solution’

THE current Clevedon hospital will not be the long term solution for healthcare provision in North Somerset – that was the message given to Clevedon Town Council when members questioned an NHS director on the cancellation of the Clevedon hospital project and what plans are being put in place for future services.

The council held a special meeting on Monday to discuss its stance on the issue and to also ask an NHS representative, Ben Bennett, about it.

During the meeting, assurances were sought that the current Old Street hospital would continue to operate and Cllr Bob Garner asked how much money could be set aside for improving the facility.

Mr Bennett, joint primary care trust (PCT) director who is dealing with the cancelled scheme, explained that a budget would be decided after a structural survey has been completed on the older parts of the cottage hospital. This is due at the end of the month.

He also said he hopes to give an update on the plans for future healthcare provision for the north of North Somerset in January and that these should still include providing outpatient services, diagnostics and minor injury treatment. However, he alsoan alternative to the Old Street hospital will be needed.

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He added: “We also still want to have a local, accessible inpatient beds. They are not going to be sustainable in the older building forever.

“I don’t think the current hospital will be the long-term solution.

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“It is clearly not big enough for modern healthcare.”

While discussing the cancellation of the new hospital project, concerns were raised about the money wasted on the scheme.

Issues were also raised about the fact NHS North Somerset has given �1.8million to South Gloucestershire’s PCT in each of the past two years to help balance its budget while at the same time saying it cannot afford the new Clevedon hospital.

Cllr Carole Wring said: “The money spent on the planning process and the design process, which I believe is something like �1.5million – how is that ever going to be recouped?

“What justification is there for supporting other PCTs when we need the money here?

“We are all very, very concerned about the wasted money and the decision making process that has led up to such large sums of money being wasted.”

Mr Bennet explained that since the PCTs for North Somerset, South Gloucester and Bristol were merged into a cluster in 2010, they have been able to move money between them to ensure their budgets are balanced.

However, he did concede that much of the money spent on the design process for the new facility has now been lost.

Following the debate, councillors agreed they would seek to ensure an adequate NHS-funded, North Somerset area hospital facility, whether new or improved, be maintained in Clevedon.

They will also ask for a meeting with the Government’s health minister, through North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox, to raise their concerns and will ask for support from other neighbouring councils to back their efforts to ensure hospital facilities continue to be provided. They also hope to hold discussions with North Somerset Council on the issue.

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