Seton Hall on hospital options list
The former Seton Hall care home site in Tweedmouth has been confirmed as one of the possible locations for a new hospital.
It is one of five options outlined in the business case – the others being the Swan Centre, Newfields, Roberts Lodge and the existing Berwick Infirmary site. A further undisclosed site, understood to be on the edge of the town, will only be considered if the other options are ruled out.
Stephen Holmes, deputy director of community services at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, told members of Berwick Regeneration Commission on Monday that the business case has now been concluded and will go before the relevant health boards and council committees over the coming weeks.
If approved, a public consultation period – a more formal process than the series of engagement sessions held earlier this year – is expected to start in September.
Architects’ drawings would be commissioned once that process is concluded.
No decision has yet been taken on whether it will be an integrated development including health, social care and leisure services.
The range of services to be provided in the hospital is also still to be determined.
Mr Holmes said: “The commitments we have made are that there will be beds in the new hospital and they will not just be for palliative patients.
“We also said we would consider not only what is in the hospital now but what has previously been in the hospital and also things that have never been there.
“It’s our intention to look at what is required and what is deliverable now as opposed to what was historically deliverable.”
He added: “I understand the frustration the town has at the length of time this has taken. I can assure you that we will not be wanting to delay this any longer than we absolutely have to which is why we are asking for a reduced consultation period of six weeks as opposed to the usual 12.”
Local resident Gordon McLean asked about rumours of another site being looked at.
Mr Holmes said: “We have been approached by some landowners to offer land that they have available for our consideration. I have said that for me to consider that land at this stage would delay the process quite considerably because we have not engaged with anyone about it.
“The commitment I have given to those landowners is that I won’t consider it for this business case. However I will put in the business case that should the boards not be satisfied with any of the options that are put in front of them then there are other options that could be considered, albeit that those considerations will come at a cost because it’s land we currently don’t own.”
Coun Gregah Roughead, member for Berwick West with Ord, called for the Northumberland County Council overview and scrutiny committee meeting on September 4 to be held in Berwick.