Shock over bid to build on community hospital site

January 29 2018

CAMPAIGNERS for a new community hospital at Frenchay fear it will never be built

CAMPAIGNERS for a new community hospital at Frenchay fear it will never be built.

Their anger has been fuelled by the news that developers have sought permission for 23 homes on the land earmarked for the provision.

Barbara Harris, from the Save Frenchay Hospital group, said the NHS had wasted public money and betrayed people’s trust over the 13 years since the decision was taken to shut the acute hospital at Frenchay.

“We have waited long enough. We need the community hospital at Frenchay now,” said Mrs Harris, from Downend, who has been involved with the campaign throughout.

Three local MPs, Chris Skidmore, Jack Lopresti and Luke Hall, say they are deeply concerned about the plans by North Bristol NHS Trust, which owns the land, and the developers Redrow, who are building hundreds of homes on the Frenchay site.

In a joint statement, they said:  “We urge the Trust and Redrow to withdraw the planning application and to get round the table, so we can ensure that what health land remains in Frenchay is used for the new health facilities we have been promised.”

The MPs are seeking a meeting with a junior Health Minister to discuss their concerns.

Councillors from all parties are also angry at the proposals. Marian Lewis, Conservative chair of the Health Scrutiny committee, at whose meeting the plans were revealed, said: “This represents a blow to the people of South Gloucestershire, who have been patiently awaiting promised facilities. We are now left questioning whether the Trust ever had any intentions of implementing these new health facilities, and whether this has all been a charade.”

Labour’s Councillor Ian Scott said: “This is an inevitable effect of the government’s austerity programme. The community and councillors need to keep pressure on the NHS to ensure that the plan for health and social care services promised for Frenchay over many years does not suffer or get scaled back as a result of this or any other deal with housing developers.”

Lib Dem Councillor Claire Young said:”We think it is outrageous that the NBT are considering allowing houses to be built on land that was supposed to be used for community health facilities before they’ve worked out how they are going to provide those facilities. It's a sad reflection on Government underfunding of our local NHS that they feel under pressure to do this.” 

NBT says the intention remains to provide health and social care beds and extra-care housing at Frenchay, but the trust no longer thinks it will need all the land that has been set aside.

Mrs Harris told the Voice that the new super-hospital at Southmead was under pressure because of the failure to provide the promised intermediate care beds at Frenchay.

This was of great concern, she said, because South Gloucestershire already has a very high proportion of elderly residents and the population overall is expected to grow rapidly. 

Meanwhile, the site for the community hospital - which was scheduled to open this summer - is covered with waste from the housing development.