Call for hospital site to be used for community care

Berwick councillors have appealed to health chiefs to keep the current Berwick Infirmary site in public ownership and to use it for community care.

Thursday, 25th October 2018, 8:49 am
Berwick Infirmary. Picture by Jane Coltman

Following the decision to build the new Berwick hospital on a separate site to the new leisure centre, it is believed that the existing Infirmary site has been ruled out with new sites being considered, especially Seton Hall.

The town’s three county councillors, Georgina Hill, Gregah Roughead and Catherine Seymour, have written to Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive Jim Mackey and chairman Alan Richardson stating: ‘In terms of the current Berwick Infirmary site, we understand that the Trust have categorically ruled this out as the location for the new hospital, not least to allow the existing hospital to continue to function whilst the new one is being built.

‘However, we would urge you to keep the Berwick Infirmary in public ownership and to ensure that the building continues to be used to serve the community, providing a care facility and accommodation.’

In the letter, they also reiterate issues which they have previously expressed to senior figures at Northumberland County Council and Northumberland CCG.

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‘As you will be aware, residents in Berwick are extremely anxious about healthcare provision in the town,’ they state. ‘As the elected Northumberland county councillors for Berwick, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you both to discuss this, the services which will be available at the new hospital and the potential for additional care facilities to be provided at the new site.

‘We would also like to discuss the concerns residents have about the distances they have to travel for a range of healthcare services, much of which would seem entirely unnecessary and for routine matters and, otherwise, for those which should be dealt with at our local hospital or GP surgeries.’

In a joint statement the trio added; “The community would not find it acceptable if the infirmary site was flogged off for, say, commercial flats, we have asked the Trust to retain it to provide further community care and accommodation for our residents”.