Community urged to go to meeting

Rothbury Community Hospital.
Rothbury Community Hospital.

Campaigners are urging everybody in the Coquet Valley to attend a public meeting tonight, where the final decision over inpatient beds at Rothbury Community Hospital could be revealed.

The forum, hosted by the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), takes place in the village’s Jubilee Hall, starting at 6.30pm.

It comes after the ward was closed unexpectedly at the start of September for three months due to an alleged fall in patient numbers, much to the dismay of the community.

The CCG has been carrying out a formal review into the claimed low usage of inpatient services at the hospital and will present its findings this evening.

Up until this point, the NHS has stressed that the closure is temporary and no decision has been taken on the permanent future.

But, objectors fear the worst, and are worried that they could receive bad news at tonight’s meeting.

Katie Scott, organiser of the Save Rothbury Hospital campaign group, said: “I fear that this is the week when everybody will be told that the closure will be made permanent, with the future use of the ward space yet to be decided by the NHS.

“If this happens, it will be terrible news for everybody in the Valley as we are so far away from other inpatient facilities.

“A particular worry for many is the lack of respite care beds locally. These beds are so needed by patients with continuing issues, for those who need more help before being fully discharged and for end-of-life care as we have no local hospice beds.”

People are asked to register in advance of tonight’s meeting via tinyurl.com/hbxydtk, but people can register at the venue from 6pm.