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Campaigners demand halt to former hospital site auction despite date being set

PUBLISHED: 13:30 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:21 17 October 2018

The old Lowestoft hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

The old Lowestoft hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Campaigners have demanded a halt to the sale of Lowestoft Hospital and for its use as a potential medical centre to be examined, despite a planned auction next week.

Lowestoft Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher.Lowestoft Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher.

A campaign was launched only a week ago urging the NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to reconsider the decision to sell the site and re-open it as a medical centre.

Since the closure of the hospital in 2016, and of Oulton Medical Centre in 2015, Lowestoft has been without a medical centre in the north of the town.

However, a date for auction has since been set, with the former hospital due to go under the hammer on Thursday next week.

The Waveney Labour Group described the decision as “hurried” and called on the James Paget University Hospital Foundation Trust, which owns the site, to reconsider.

Group leader Peter Byatt has also written to the CCG asking for an immediate suspension of the sale until all options have been explored.

As it stands, a feasibility study into a future medical site at Woods Meadow, Oulton, is taking place, with other sites also under consideration.

A spokesman for the group said: “This hurried decision prevents any realistic chance for this to be challenged.

“As advised in the recent letter of councillor Jane Murray, the belatedly announced feasibility study into the Woods Meadow site may find that this site is not suitable.

“We also note that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are potentially seeking alternative sites.

“With increased urgency we repeat that appropriate land together with other appropriate facilities are already available at the Lowestoft Hospital site.”

They added: “Labour strongly agrees that the Lowestoft Hospital site could also feature community beds for the increasing number of patients needing re-enablement support, following discharge from JPH, to prevent the ongoing problem of ‘bed-blocking’.

“It is incredibly short-sighted and it makes no sense for the CCG to miss this opportunity to enhance NHS provision centrally for local people.”

Frank Joyce, of Lowestoft Coalition against the Cuts, who launched the campaign to reopen the hospital as a medical centre said: “Lowestoft Hospital, which the NHS already owns, is the ideal solution and it is what people want. Those now running the NHS can only see cuts, sell-offs and more privatisation.

“We do not need more gimmicks, slogans or short term fixes. They need to stop trying to justify failing schemes and listen to the public.”

Labour group leader Peter Byatt said: “I urge anyone who is concerned at this hasty sale to also write to Rebecca Driver and Melanie Craig, or to e-mail them at gywccg.your-views-matter@nhs.net.

“We cannot let this go unchallenged.”

The NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG confirmed they are performing a feasibility study in north Lowestoft, but fell short of confirming whether the former hospital site was included in the study.

Cath Byford, deputy chief officer and director of commissioning with NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, said: “Decisions were made a number of years ago that the Lowestoft Hospital site was no longer viable for the provision modern health services and the CCG continues to support that decision.

“The James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been involved in a process over a number of years to redevelop or sell the site to make the best use of limited NHS resources, which the CCG supports.

“The CCG is in the process of undertaking a feasibility study in north Lowestoft for a health site, and as part of this are considering suitable sites available.”

A public meeting to discuss the sale is to take place this Thursday at 7pm at the United Reformed Church on London Road North in the town.

Speakers will include Chris Brooks, local historian on the founding and history of Lowestoft Hospital, Jane Murray, Labour councillor for the Oulton ward on Waveney District Council, and Bill Adnams of Keep our NHS Public.

The hospital will be sold at auction on Thursday, October 25, by Allsop auction house and has a guide price of £475,000.

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