D-Day is looming for decision on inpatient ward

Protestors make their feelings known. Picture by Jane Coltman
Protestors make their feelings known. Picture by Jane Coltman

A final decision on the fate of Rothbury Community Hospital’s under-threat inpatient ward could be made next week – although councillors might decide to send the matter to the Secretary of State.

The future of the site’s 12 beds will be discussed by Northumberland County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.

It comes after the Joint Executive Board of the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) last month voted unanimously in favour of permanently closing the inpatient ward and shaping the existing services around a Health and Wellbeing Centre at the hospital.

This uncompromising stance prompted anger from objectors, who have been fighting to reopen the beds since they were closed in September last year, due to ‘low usage’, and have threatened to take the issue to a judicial review.

If the council committee deems the CCG’s vision appropriate, it can rubber-stamp the decision.

But, members have been told that if they feel that the consultation was inadequate, or if they believe that the permanent closure would not be in the best interests of the health service in Northumberland, then councillors can, if they decide there is strong enough evidence, refer the matter to the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, the Save Rothbury Hospital campaign group is calling on the CCG is reconsider and adopt the community’s vision – to reopen the beds and develop a Health and Wellbeing Centre.

Katie Scott, group coordinator, said it would be wonderful if the committee ruled against the CCG’s decision, but added that objectors have ‘plenty of energy’ should the matter go to Central Government or judicial review.

The council meeting, which is open to the public, takes place at County Hall, in Morpeth, from 10am.