Town council backs aims of campaigners

Campaigners calling for better services to be delivered in Berwick's proposed new hospital have received the backing of town councillors.

Thursday, 27th September 2018, 15:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 14:51 pm
Berwick Infirmary. Picture by Jane Coltman

At a packed meeting on Monday night, the council unanimously agreed to support the aims of the campaign group ‘A Better Hospital for Berwick’.

Its aims are to ensure that the health services delivered in the new build hospital are those promised following the original 2014 consultation, including the return of services which have been lost since then.

It also wants the physical building to have the immediate capacity to incorporate these in full but also allows for expansion to accommodate any possible future provision.

The council also agreed to invite Jim Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust to a meeting to discuss the issues.

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Coun Brian Parkin, proposing the motion, said: “I think it’s important the town council reflects the views of the people who put us here.

“The campaign group has over 3,500 members and I think the main aims of the group are supported by the vast majority of the town.”

A £45million integrated hospital and leisure centre development on the Swan Centre site is currenly proposed by Northumbria Healthcare, Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group and Northumberland County Council.

However, there is a growing movement calling for a dual-site development.

Coun Alex Gibson said there would be ‘uproar’ if the proposed development went ahead in its current form.

Coun Ivor Dixon said: “We need a new hospital. We have been put off for far too long. I hope the hospital trust realises that they are not dealing with village idiots.”

Coun Anne Forbes added: “There is no way we can have a hospital where they are going to cut the number of beds.”

Steven Havelin, representing A Better Hospital for Berwick, said: “The message is clear. What we all want is all local healthcare services which we have lost over the past few years back again; room for future expansion to keep developing healthcare in Berwick... and to stop pointless long journeys to hospitals so far away.

“What matters most is a standalone hospital on a separate site with room for the future. If the process of consultation and engagement had been properly conducted this would have been clear all along.”

The campaign group has called a public meeting to discuss the issue on Wednesday, October 3 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm in the town hall.

Health chiefs say the co-location of health and leisure services represents the best in modern medical thinking with an emphasis not just on treating illness and injury but on preventing them in the first place.