Bid to break Thornbury Health Centre ‘impasse’
SOUTH Gloucestershire Council could speed the slow progress of plans to redevelop Thornbury’s health centre and hospital by buying both sites, it has been claimed.
Councillor Matthew Riddle’s suggestion was welcomed by health chiefs, who said they remained absolutely committed to taking the project forward.
Speaking at a health scrutiny committee meeting, Cllr Riddle (Con, Severn) said: “Local residents were sold the idea of the closure of Frenchay Hospital with the promise of better and more extensive facilities in Thornbury. Frenchay has closed but residents of Thornbury and the surrounding area are still waiting for those better facilities.
“I’m glad you’re working to get through the impasse. I would like to suggest another way through: for the council to buy the land, for a fair price.”
The council agreed last year to lead the hospital project but there are complications, one of which is that the health centre is owned by the North Bristol NHS Trust and the hospital is owned by NHS Property Services.
Cllr Riddle said buying both sites and renting them back to the NHS could overcome the obstacle.
He added: “There have been so many false starts. We now have a completed technical study showing what’s needed, and the evidence to back it up.”
Jon Shaw, the council’s head of commissioning, partnerships and performance, said buying the land was one idea officers were considering.
Maggie Tyrrell (Lib Dem, Thornbury South & Alveston) said: “What we don’t want is to spend the next 18 months with the council faffing around to work out if we can afford it. This has to be done quickly.”
The area’s clinical commissioning group, which is in charge of planning NHS services, has said it needs 50 rehabilitation beds at Frenchay and six to 10 ‘step-up’ rehab beds in Thornbury, as well as redeveloping the town’s health centre.
Councillors were told the council believes 50 to 80 extra care beds on each site are needed, plus 72 nursing care beds across both.
Sue Hope (Lib Dem, Cotswold Edge) said: “We were promised a centre of excellence. We promised extensive services in Thornbury. They are disappearing.
“What I’m seeing is a great diminishing of what we were promised all those years ago.”
Commissioning group South Gloucestershire area director David Jarrett and trust head of capital planning Tricia Down both said their organisations were committed to the hospital project.