Hospital debate to go to House of Commons
THE cancellation of the Clevedon hospital project will be debated in the House of Commons in the hope money can be secured for the provision of future healthcare in the area.
North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox has asked for an adjournment debate at the House so the issue can be discussed in front of the Government’s health minister.
Following the decision to cancel the scheme, NHS North Somerset has said it will sell the land it bought at Millcross if it is no longer needed.
Under current regulations, that money would be returned to a central health budget. However, Dr Fox wants it to be placed into the local budget for North Somerset.
He said: “If the Millcross site is not going to be built, then it should be disposed of, with the money then to be used for rebuilding or upgrading the current hospital.
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“I’m looking for an assurance from a Government minister that any money the NHS receives from the sale of Millcross will come back to our local health budget.”
Since July’s announcement that a new Clevedon hospital will not be built, the NHS has come under criticism for not releasing detailed information regarding the reason behind cancelling the scheme just weeks before work was due to start and how much the cancellation is expected to cost in total.
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Dr Fox has recently met with representatives of The League of Friends of Clevedon Hospital and Richard Darch, director of the company that was tasked with building the facility, who are equally perplexed by the cancellation. He has also met with Dr Mary Backhouse, clinical accountable officer designate for the North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group which will take over the running of health services in the area from April, to discuss the issue.
He said: “What it now looks like following my meeting with Mary Backhouse is that it is not a problem specifically on the funding for this project but a wider funding problem across the area.
“There are a lot of suspicions that we are being cut back to fund Weston hospital.
“I suspect we are suffering as a health area as a whole because of the mismanagement and financial viability of Weston hospital.
“I have now got more information but there are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered about when and who made the decision.
“We need proper answers which is why I want to take it to the House of Commons.”
Ben Bennett, joint PCT director who is dealing with the cancelled scheme, said: “We have had quite a few requests for information and we need to make certain that anything that is commercially sensitive is not published prematurely.
“We have responded to Liam Fox’s concerns and have met with him to talk about his concerns.
“We have explained our position to him and I know that he is interested to know about what happens next.
Later this month, Clevedon Town Council will hold a special meeting to discuss the cancellation of the hospital project and how it should approach the issue as a council.
The meeting has been called by councillors David Shopland, Graham Watkins and Trevor Morgan who also want to make sure healthcare provision is preserved in the area.