Health bosses have revealed they plan to demolish the asbestos-riddled Heanor Memorial Hospital and build a new £2.5 million health unit in its place.
The unit would offer outpatients services, including for dementia sufferers and would be open within two years. There would be no inpatient beds unlike the current hospital, which has been closed since September after large amounts of asbestos were found there.
They say instead the unit would have close ties with a nearby care home where beds would be offered. Specially trained staff would treat these patients in a scheme which was piloted in Derby last year. They are still in negotiations with a number of local care homes over the move.
Two hundred people packed a public meeting on Thursday, May 29, in Heanor, when officials from NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the Ilkeston Road hospital would be too expensive to save and needed to be bulldozed.
The new building would offer services for older patients with dementia, there would be mental health services and all current clinics, including blood services, would be housed on the site.
Andy Layzell, chief officer of the CCG told the meeting demolishing the hospital would be the most effective way to resolve the problem.
He said: “The long term solution is to demolish the site rather than patch over the cracks. In addition to the asbestos, the disabled access and electrical facilities were not up to standard. We need to rebuild a functioning site and then bring health services back to Heanor.”
He said it was now important the decisions made took into account the current health needs of the people of Heanor and the surrounding areas and the CCG had started to gather information from the borough council, NHS services and other sources to create a complete picture of the local population. So far information showed the age population of the Amber Valley area was increasing, hence services for treating dementia patients, with a memory assessment service being one of the options.
When Heanor Memorial closed in September patients were transferred to Ilkeston Community Hospital, where 10 beds would remain, said Mr Layzell. The new venue would also serve as a ambulance ‘stand-by’ point.
The public meeting at St Lawrence’s Church in Market Place was the second one. In January concerned residents packed the church to raise concerns about hospital services remaining the the town.
He said: “When we started in January we hadn’t even answered the question of whether the hospital would close, and now we are confirming the plans to demolish and rebuild. We are now dealing with questions about parking etc which demonstrates the willingness to move forward - residents’ are supporting a positive change.
“We don’t expect there to be inpatient beds in the new building - but there will be hospital beds nearby - in local care homes and at the new Florence Shipley Centre.”
Residents asked if maternity and minor injuries units could be included, but were told research showed they could not be justified due to lack of demand and not enough people to justify a safe and functioning service - however, the one in Ilkeston will continue to run.
The hospital would not be forgotten though with plans to preserve the memorial status, with the possibility of old photographs in the new place and bricks to commemorate World War One soldiers used in the building. Local schools would also be asked to get involved in designing the unit and ideas from residents would be welcomed.
Resident Tessa Roberts, 61, Saxton Avenue, Heanor, said after the meeting:“Brilliant - they are doing all they can - I like the fact they want to honour the existing memorial status.”
But Kevin Clifford, 58, of Allendale Road, Heanor, wanted the town to still have a hospital. He said: “We pay national insurance and we should be entitled to a proper hospital not just a healthcare facility.”
Other residents quizzed health bosses on the venue having adequate parking for such services.
Health bosses said during the next few weeks they would be investigating further over end of life care for people in Heanor.
A formal report is due in July which will then be subject to a three-month consultation period, then a third public meeting would be held. The CCG will take the feedback during the consultation period and a final decision will be made on plans in September.
The new Florence Shipley home is set to be opened in March next year.
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Public meeting residents pack a meeting in Heanor about the future of the town’s hospital
Health plans Heanor residents listen to plans for the old Heanor Memorial Hospital
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The future health boss Andy Layzell explains proposals for the hospital site