Clevedon Hospital supporters: 'Bid already cost £3m, don't just waste it'
Supporters of Clevedon Hospital are to meet with NHS chiefs to challenge their decision to scrap plans for a new state of the art £15 million hospital in the town.
Clevedon Cottage Hospital's League of Friends, which has been running for more than 50 years, say they are horrified at a decision by NHS North Somerset to scrap plans for a new hospital at Mill Cross.
NHS chiefs announced in July that following a review of the full business case for the new hospital by NHS North Somerset and NHS South of England, it was no longer viable in the economic climate.
It had been hoped the hospital, which would have been funded by a private sector partner in a 25 year contract with the NHS, would have opened in 2014.
Health chiefs will now consider the different options open to them for providing services in the district with a report due on the way forward in the autumn.
It is understood that NHS North Somerset has already spent nearly £3 million on plans for the new hospital – £1.5 million to buy the site and a further £1.5 million on professional fees.
The League of Friends has submitted a Freedom of Information request to NHS officials asking for the costs, technical reports and plans for the hospital over the last four years. And although the friends group has yet to receive the information, it says it will challenge the decision and explore all alternative avenues until the plans for the new hospital are reinstated.
A meeting between the friends and NHS chiefs has been set for September 25.
League of Friends treasurer, John Powell, said: "The hospital provides healthcare for more than 100,000 residents in the wider area.
"It is obviously Victorian, with many corridors, cramped and difficult to maintain and can safely be described as unfit for purpose.
"Four years ago, NHS Bristol and North Somerset acknowledged the limitations of this, bought land for £1.5m, obtained planning and spent thousands of pounds on architects and consultancy fees.
"Now, within weeks of the commencement of building work, the project has been cancelled because it is now considered to be unaffordable.
"There was no prior notice of cancellation, no details, no consultation, just abandoned.
"What a disgraceful waste of public money and resources and we feel so very badly let down.
"There is no plan B, no mention of deferment, no vision, no forward planning and we are fighting this decision as best we can with all the support we can muster."
The friends group has also written to the chief executive of the South of England Strategic Health Authority, Sir Ian Carruthers objecting to the decision and is calling for a meeting with North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox.
The friends group, which over the years has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the hospital, is urging people to write to MPs and local councillors to object to the hospital plan being scrapped.
The hospital at Old Street, which was built in 1874, has 18 beds as well as an accident and emergency department.
Plans for the new hospital had included a 24 bed inpatient unit on the first floor, a counselling suite, administration block and therapy unit and garden. It would have a minor injuries department which will open 8am to 8pm seven days a week and provide accommodation for the out-of-hours GP service.
Plans also included an imaging unit, an outpatients' wing, a pedestrian piazza at the entrance to the building and a therapy garden.
NHS North Somerset said it was still committed to providing services for people in Clevedon and the surrounding area, but needed to revisit its options.
NHS North Somerset programme director Ben Bennett said: "We are meeting with the friends and will listen to what they have to say. We understand that people are upset and angry at the decision.
"The reason the project was stopped is it is no longer affordable in the current climate.
"Everyone in NHS North Somerset is also very upset as a lot of work had gone into the project.
"It was a difficult decision to make at an advanced stage."