HOPES an unused hospital could be redeveloped into a new doctor’s surgery have been reignited.
The Victoria Cottage Hospital in Emsworth could rejoin the race to become the town’s new practice after it was confirmed GPs may be reconsidering its future.
Long vacant, the site was put up for sale by NHS Property Services last month and a residents’ campaign, Emsworth United, was set up to try and buy it back for community use.
But while it was listed after being declared ‘surplus to need’ by the South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the authority has confirmed local health professionals ‘may be reconsidering their plans’.
The news has been welcomed by Dwynwen Stepien, one of the founders of Emsworth United and chairwoman of the newly-established Emsworth Community Land Trust.
‘The hospital site did not seem feasible when they looked at locations for the new town surgery before, but we are delighted doctors are reconsidering,’ she said.
‘A vast majority of residents feel a surgery at the heart of the town is what is required – especially those less able to travel to the proposed site at Redlands Grange.
‘Whatever happens, we would want the CCG and doctors to talk closely with residents, because there may be beneficial community services additional to a new surgery that could feature at the hospital site.’
Havant MP Alan Mak, who previously campaigned for a satellite surgery to remain in the heart of Emsworth – if the current one moves north to Redlands Grange, which as previously is being considered – has called for the hospital site to be taken off the market.
‘The South Eastern Hampshire CCG acted too hastily in declaring this site as surplus to medical requirements and there is a real danger that unless this decision is reversed, Emsworth could be without a location for a new surgery,’ he said.
‘NHS Property Services must take the EVCH off the market to allow for that process to conclude, and all marketing materials need to be removed immediately.’
Mr Mak, alongside residents, was left frustrated after the hospital site was put up for sale without prior notification to the public – despite it being registered as an asset of community value.
Sara Tiller, director of development for the NHS South Eastern Hampshire CCG, acknowledged the ‘strong local feeling’ toward the plot.
On the site’s future, she said: ‘We understand that the practice may be reconsidering their plans, so we now need to fully understand the practice’s current thinking and options, and are looking to set up a meeting with them as a priority as soon as key people return from holiday.
‘Once the practice’s decision is confirmed to us we may reconsider the decision about the site. Our focus has always been to support the practice to help them provide the best possible health service to the community in Emsworth.’
The hospital site is expected to be a hot topic at Emsworth United’s first public meeting tonight, which starts at 6.30pm at Emsworth Baptist Church, in North Street.