Infirmary site could be used for extra care housing
Specialist facilities for the elderly and disabled are envisaged for the Berwick Infirmary site if a new hospital is built elsewhere.
The idea was revealed by Stephen Holmes, deputy director of community services at Northumbria healthcare NHS Trust.
He said: “Should we develop the hospital off its current site and that site becomes vacant we would look to develop that site primarily for disabled and older people.
“We recognise that in Berwick we have an ageing population and we want to ensure the services available to that population going forward are there and that includes things like accommodation, extra care, dementia care.
“I am not saying this is what we are developing but these are the thoughts we have so when we start to bring together our strategic plan for delivery of older people’s services in Northumberland and concentrate on Berwick we believe that site gives us significant opportunities because of its location. If you were building extra care housing you would want it in the town centre and not too far away from those amenities and that is the perfect location.
“I think there is a perception in the town we would want to try and sell it off for development and make some money back but we see its value as being much greater if we can use it for the benefit of the town, particularly for that generation.”
He was speaking at a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s Local Area Council at the Jubilee Club in Spittal last Thursday.
Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, member for Bamburgh ward, also asked about cross-border services following last week’s call by fellow councillor Georgina Hill for closer working to provide improved services.
Coun Hill, member for Berwick East, felt it was the only hope for there to be an Accident and Emergency unit in the new Berwick hospital.
Mr Holmes said: “We already work cross-border with arrangements in place for community services. That brings with it complexities. It’s an interesting point that Coun Hill raises and it is something we will look at with our cross-border colleagues but it’s a CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) issue.”