NHS declares Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital '˜best' site for town's new GP surgery

AFTER months in '˜limbo' a much-loved former hospital has been named the likely home for a new GP surgery.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 2:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:18 am
The former Victoria Cottage Hospital in Emsworth

The news comes as a victory for Emsworth campaigners who have fought tooth and nail to save the Victoria Cottage Hospital after it suddenly went up for sale in July. 

Now the NHS has declared the site the '˜best solution' in replacing the dated Emsworth Surgery, which has more than 13,000 patients on its books despite being built for 2,000. 

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Key figures from the Emsworth United campaign, including David Thomas, back-right, and Stephanie Elsy, centre-left

The decision follows consultation with doctors, stakeholders, community groups and residents '“ and a business case for the plan will be submitted to the NHS on Friday. 

Stephanie Elsy, the chairwoman of the Emsworth Forum, said: '˜This is a wonderful outcome and one that all the local organisations under the banner of Emsworth United fought for when the NHS put the hospital site up for sale last July.  

'˜Strong community determination was shown at the well-attended meeting in August to fight for the hospital site to be retained for community health purposes.  

'˜It is an entirely fitting result that the Emsworth medical practice will, with the support NHS funding, make the refurbished hospital its new home.' 

The hospital's refurbishment was one of nine options outlined by the NHS in a bid modernise the town's existing surgery, which is also in North Street. 

And as a result of the plan, proposals for a new surgery north of the railway line at Redlands Grange have been put on ice '“ with an option to keep the existing surgery in Westbourne open carried forward. 

David Thomas, of Emsworth Health Action Group, said the result was down to community figures working in a '˜can do' way with the NHS. 

'˜Our community campaigning and the all important public support received has ensured that Emsworth can secure a modernised 21st century primary care service,' he said.

'˜Moreover, it is one that can continue to develop as patients needs change over the forthcoming years '“ as the EVCH site is expandable.' 

Like residents, Havant MP Alan Mak was not alerted to the hospital sale listing before it went live '“ and played a key role in getting it off the market to pave way for future talks. 

He said: '˜While we have achieved much in the last few months, there is still a way to go and I'll be continuing my work to ensure that the NHS CCG, doctors and council work together to deliver this project for the benefit of Emsworth.'

If a business case for the hospital is successful, the scheme to refurbish it could receive a windfall of as much as £4.4m from the NHS' Estates and Technology Transformation Fund.

Sara Tiller, managing director of the South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: '˜No option is without risk, and a great deal of further discussions will need to continue between us, as a CCG, the GPs, NHS England, NHS Property Services as the site owner, and Havant Borough Council, to ensure that the risks and costs, both now and on going, are accurately reflected and understood by all parties. We are not there yet.'

Emsworth Surgery doctor Abu Chinwala added: '˜We want and need to work differently and the current building is holding us back from providing the best possible care we can for our patients.

'˜Population forecasts for new homes in the area will increase new registrations, which mean that we will need additional doctors and clinical staff and the space for them to work. '˜Staying where we are is not, in our view, an option for the long term. But remaining in the town centre, on a site so close to where we are now, does offer advantages, including the timings of when ETTF funding can be spent. It is a workable solution for us.'