Wiltshire Publications

Residents slate Westbury hospital plans

THEtown’s response to recently unveiled proposals for the Westbury Community Hospital site was fiery and almost unanimous in its scorn for the proposals.

A large number of people have written to White Horse News  to express their views, and many others have taken to social media. Below are some of their comments.

Erica Watson, on behalf of the League of Friends: “Whilst fully appreciating the need for the site to be developed, the League of Friends (LOF) are saddened and disappointed that it has not been considered suitable as a healthcare facility.

“We were disappointed with the poor communication from the NHS regarding the drop-in session on the 11th February.  Given the well-documented strength of the campaign to protect the hospital and health services in Westbury, we felt that the community should have been kept informed of the process of disposing of what is essentially a building which was funded by the Westbury people.

“Via donations from the community, the League of Friends had given in excess of one million pounds to the hospital and is saddened that the NHS has left the Westbury people feeling ignored again.

“The LOF were told that NHS commissioners have declared that Westbury does not need any more health care facilities and therefore the site is surplus to needs.

“While we appreciate the financial restraints of the NHS, both nationally and locally, we would ask where those patients who are well enough to be discharged from the RUH and other acute hospitals, but not well enough to go home, should be looked after?

“The hospital site would be ideal for this purpose allowing local people access to the care which they need and deserve. The LOF are confident that, given the opportunity, the Westbury and surrounding area would all vote for the hospital to be retained as a care facility. Will the NHS give us the opportunity to be heard?”

Penelope Birnstingl: “I am dismayed and angry at the news about the proposed development of the hospital site in Westbury.  Why does Westbury have to have so many new houses?  Where are the facilities for all these extra people?

“The new Health Centre is good but already there are not enough GPs.  They cannot recruit full time GPs.  People who live on the other side of Westbury find it difficult to get to the Health Centre.

“Why not have another health centre on the old hospital site, plus perhaps some other organisations for welfare and wellbeing of our citizens? It is disgraceful that the old hospital is being sold off just to make money.

“We must not allow this to happen.  There must be no more houses until we get a bypass and more facilities for the town.

Paul Moulson: “I think the best way forward is to reopen the site as a hospital. I also think that Westbury and surrounding areas have had enough house/commercial building for quite a while.

“There is Leigh Park, Dilton Marsh, Slag Lane, and the area by the Co-Op, as well as the expansion of the main trading estate just to mention a few.

“Where is the infrastructure to cope? The roads, shopping etc; has the council lost all sense?”

Mary Blood: “We think it is scandalous to  sell off Westbury hospital site for housing, when it could be used for long term patients who are bed-blocking. The NHS are always complaining about being short of beds!  Or is it the case that someone could be getting a golden handshake out of the deal?”

David Martin-Nash: “I have just read your article about Westbury Hospital being turned into new homes. I thought the hospital was donated to the people of Westbury in the 1900s. How then, can the law of ownership change without permission from Westbury residents? Therefore is it not right that the people of Westbury should decide what happens to the building?

“Someone somewhere must have had their palms greased with a few bob to make this happen so quickly and quietly.

“There should be a full investigation by the Wiltshire police force, this smells of corruption in the council. As if this could possibly happen in this day and age!”

Hazel O’Hara: “I have just read  the story regarding building new homes on the old hospital site. This is an outrage and a travesty because we need this hospital, just as other towns need theirs.

“The League of Friends, which I supported for years, must be devastated.  I will be going to view the plans and give my comments on this outrageous plan; thank you for publishing this terrible news and making us all aware of what they are trying to do.”

Charlie Finbow: “It is with total outrage and disgust I have learnt that our hospital building and the 2.3 hectare site is being offered for sale for £2.5 million when we were originally told that the site would be offered for sale for medical use at approx. £6 million.

“No doubt a developer is going to be quids in at that price; most of the money will be reclaimed by carefully dismantling the site and selling it off for reclamation.

“This is a joke. Well it’s not really, as jokes are supposed to be funny.   We are talking about things not adding up – why has the site devalued by more than half? Surely with the demand for housing this is prime real estate and worth a lot more, or is this just a quick way of making a few quid?

“I would publicly call on Westbury Town Council to demand a public meeting  with representation from the PCT, our MP, and local Wiltshire councillors to explore every single avenue for the sake of a facility which could be priceless, but when demolished becomes useless.

“It’s not the first time we have been promised the earth (sell the clinic and the hospital will be safeguarded) and received nothing.

“Come on Westbury, stand up and be counted; we’ve had enough of being the poor cousin of Wiltshire.”

Mo Fergusson: “It has been kept very hush-hush until now. It hasn’t appeared in any ‘searches’ when buying property in the area. The extra traffic will definitely have an impact on the roads in the immediate area. The closure of the hospital has been a great loss for Westbury.”

JennyStallard: “It’s a shame the NHS are not considering opening it back up as a cottage hospital; too many people have nowhere to go between hospital and home.

“If they build on the hospital site it will only be a matter of time before they add the two fields behind it to their wanted list.

“I understand there is a need for housing but with hundreds of new houses on Slag Lane and now The Mead, where are all these extra families going to get education and health care from?

“It’s all very well building them and taking the council tax money but you have got to think ahead. The schools will have money pledged to them but that will only put mobile classrooms on areas currently used for play.

“Where has the money from the sale of the old doctors’ surgery gone? Why hasn’t that gone towards reopening the hospital?”

Bernard Collis: “The hospital and grounds were given to the people of westbury in the early 1900s, so it should never have even been considered for outline planning permission without consulting the people. It’s just another case of the council running roughshod over the people.”

Sheila Stafford:“It’s very sad that the hospital can’t be reopened, or used as a care home or other health facility. There are too many houses in Westbury already, and access is an issue, too.

“Their claims about the amount of traffic don’t add up. 70 houses would surely bring over 100 cars – far more than would have been at the hospital.”

Hilary Price:“I am very saddened to hear of the proposal to demolish Westbury Hospital and build houses on the site. We are constantly being told that beds at the larger hospitals are blocked because there is no ‘halfway house’ for patients before they are able to return home,  while buildings like our hospital stand empty and deteriorate.

“I think it is disgraceful.  As the hospital was given to the town, the people should decide on its future.”

Gwin Bush:“It’s disgusting and it’s clearly all about money. The people of Westbury, who technically owned the hospital,  weren’t consulted at all. The council and companies should face the residents and give us straight answers about how the town will support so many more people, and what it’s doing about healthcare. They can’t just keep banging up houses.

“There’s a need for more healthcare in the town because the health centre can be a long way for sick, older people to go, and it’s even further to the closest hospital. There is even a care agency started by the hospital’s own nurses; it’s obvious there’s a need.

“What’s the point in asking for feedback when we know it’ll happen anyway? We’ve already seen that from Wiltshire Council, and now this.”

However, not all comments were quite as heated:

Lee Tilley: It’s about time someone planned to do something with it. No point leaving it sat there empty is there? I’m not bothered whether it was gifted to the town; at the end of the day it’s an empty waste of space  and an eye sore – the quicker it’s demolished and built on, the better!”