Wiltshire Publications

Hope for Westbury hospital as council delays decision

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 at 11:50 am.

CAMPAIGNERSare continuing their fight after being given a stay of execution this week when Wiltshire Council postponed its decision on whether to permit the demolition of Westbury’s former hospital.

Westbury’s healthcare campaign group, Sensible Thinking on Patients (STOP), is carrying on its fight to open new medical facilities on the hospital site.

Chair Erica Watson has written to Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and Peter Jenkins, chair of Wiltshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), to ask for their support in light of a recent NHS report over ‘bed blocking’ in larger hospitals, an issue covered by White Horse News in our last issue.

Erica said, “Wiltshire Council delaying its decision is reassuring because it shows they’re taking their time, not rushing the application, and are hopefully taking people’s concerns seriously.

“It buys us more time, too, and we are continuing to meet and hope to sit down with the CCG and Wiltshire Council to properly discuss the need for better healthcare in Westbury. I’ve had acknowledgements for my letters to Jeremy Hunt and Peter Jenkins, and people have been writing to Andrew Murrison, MP – we hope he will continue to be involved in the campaign.

“STOP is still actively working towards improving healthcare in Westbury, and we still want to see all or part of the hospital site used for the new facilities.”

The delay comes just weeks after a Government report revealed that there was a national problem with delayed hospital discharges, citing a shortage in local care provision creating ‘bed-blocking’ by patients well enough to leave a large hospital, but not yet well enough to go home.

In her letter to Jeremy Hunt Erica writes, “Wiltshire’s latest ‘Delayed Transfers of Care’ figures are very disturbing and those statistics prove that intermediate care beds are urgently needed in the county. The Westbury hospital site would be ideal for this.

“Although NHS Property Services has estimated that the buildings would need between four and five million pounds to bring them up to present clinical standards, that figure is far less than the inevitable new building which will be required in the future.”

STOP has been campaigning to try and save the hospital after it was announced last year that the NHS intended to secure planning permission for up to 60 houses and then sell the land.

Wiltshire Council’s public consultation on the application, originally supposed to end on 1st January, was extended and only ended last Wednesday 17th February. A spokesperson told White Horse News that the target decision dates were a guide, and that more complicated cases could take longer. Wiltshire Council had planned to make a decision on Monday, (22nd February), but could not confirm when the rescheduled date would be.

During the consultation, local people produced what a planning officer described as a “substantial level of public objection” to the plans, and over 150 comments were sent to the council.

To view the full plans and comments enter reference 15/11604/OUT in the planning search at www.wiltshire.gov.uk