Thornbury Hospital project one step closer-for now

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A MAJOR obstacle has been overcome in the quest to open a state-of-the-art medical centre in Thornbury - but many more still remain in the way.

NHS North Bristol (NBT) and the Primary Care Trust each owned half of the land the new complex, which will replace the Henderson Ward and health centre, is due to be built on, delaying the project.

But after long negotiations, NBT eventually agreed to take over the whole site - a decision which should significantly simplify matters as the scheme progresses.

Primary Care Trusts are to be phased out by the government and all their assets transferred to a central NHS Property Service. A dual ownership, in those circumstances, would not have been manageable in the long run.

Thornbury Hospital steering group member Cllr Maggie Tyrrell welcomed NBT’s decision to buy the PCT out. She said: "If you are not dealing with a local organisation it becomes a bit more difficult. It is good news that it will be held locally."

But the end of the road is not in sight yet.

Last September, the Gazette reported that the new health campus scheme would be postponed for another year, pushing the completion date to 2015.

The plans will not be reviewed by the NHS until proposals for Frenchay Hospital are finalised. The Frenchay project was recently delayed indefinitely, further stalling the approval and construction of a health campus in Thornbury.

Seeing the Frenchay plans apparently slipping away has not filled people in Thornbury with confidence. Neither has the fact that the NHS is remaining non-committal about the project.

Cllr Tyrrell added: "It would seem likely that everything will be slowed down because they are having to review the Frenchay work again. We don’t know what implications that will have for Thornbury, if any.

"We are once again waiting for the NHS to get on with their work. We are waiting to hear from them on the next stage."

The complex is set to include a nursing home with, it is hoped, six NHS-funded beds and extra care housing.

A new health centre will also be created with a greater range of outpatient and diagnostic services as well as a minor injury unit. The question of where the NHS beds will be provided is still up in the air at the moment.

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