A former chief constable of Northumbria Police has stepped into the row over the temporary suspension of all the inpatient beds at Rothbury Community Hospital.
Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, who headed up Northumbria’s Constabulary from 1991 to 1996, raised a question in the House of Lords about the situation in the village.
Last month, he asked the Government what plans it had made ‘to ensure effective healthcare is available in Northumberland after the closure of Rothbury Community Hospital’s inpatient ward?’
In reply, Lord Prior of Brampton said: ‘These are matters for the local National Health Service. We understand the decision was taken by NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in light of the continued extremely low use of the ward.
‘As the suspension is a temporary measure, public consultation is not required.’
The ward was closed unexpectedly at the start of September for three months, to the dismay of the community, and the NHS Northumberland CCG is carrying out a formal review into the alleged low usage of inpatient services.
The findings will be presented at a public meeting, hosted by Northumberland CCG, at the village’s Jubilee Hall on Thursday, November 17, starting at 6.30pm.
People are being asked to register their attendance in advance online at tinyurl.com/hbxydtk, however, registration also opens at 6pm at the venue on the night.
The CCG and the Trust insists the closure is temporary and no decision on the permanent future has been taken.
But, a campaign group has been set up and a petition has been signed by more than 2,000 people, while a protest was held outside the hospital last month. Objectors say the ward is vital and it would be a disaster if it was to close. They have criticised the bombshell decision to temporarily shut the unit with no consultation.
In September, Lib Dem Baroness Walmsley, raised concerns about the closure in the House of Lords.
Rothbury-born TV star Alexandra Armstrong has also expressed his dismay and backed the campaigners.