Rothbury’s GP practice is set to move into the hospital, as the community awaits a final decision on the future of the facility’s 12 inpatient beds.
Work will start at Rothbury Community Hospital next week to prepare for the proposed relocation.
However, Rothbury’s county councillor, Steven Bridgett, said that while he supports the idea, ‘it gives the wrong impression to the public because it’s being carried out before a decision on the hospital has been made’.
For its part, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has underlined that the proposed move ‘predates and is not linked to the provision of inpatient services’.
Alterations are to take place on the ground floor of the hospital run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to develop new purpose-built rooms for The Rothbury Practice. The work does not affect services currently provided and there is no change to other areas.
The move – put forward due to an increase in patient numbers – follows engagement with patients in December 2015 and January 2016.
It will mean improved accessibility to ground-floor clinical rooms, closer integration between GPs and other healthcare professionals, and parking.
Final approvals continue to progress, however, the practice hopes to move to its new premises in mid-December.
Dr Georgina Morgan, one of four GP partners, said: “While we continue to provide high-quality treatment in our current location, the simple fact is that due to our increased patient numbers, we have outgrown the premises and our limited access to ground-floor clinical rooms needs addressing.
“Relocating to purpose-built accommodation in the community hospital will mean we can deliver care in an improved environment while presenting opportunities for greater integration with other healthcare teams.”
The future of inpatient services has been subject to a public consultation led by NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a final decision is awaited.
Katie Scott, coordinator of the Save Rothbury Community Hospital group, said they have always been in support of the move and, given it has been planned for some time, included it in their overall concept for the hospital.
“The GP surgery on site will facilitate the use of the 12 beds at first-floor level, offering immediate medical care whenever necessary to patients during most of the week,” she added.
“Our view is that the building should be fully used in an integrated way with a GP practice, community hospital beds, physiotherapy, appropriate clinics and a base for community nurses and paramedics.
“The CCG plans to close the ward, leaving unused most of the first floor of the building as well as the ward’s 12 rooms, each with en-suite facilities.”