Plans to build a separate stand-alone hospital in Berwick as a replacement for the current infirmary have been announced today.
The decision by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust comes as a result of feedback from the public and trust governors.
It replaces previously announced plans for a joint £45million integrated health and leisure development with Northumberland County Council on a single site at the Swan Centre in Tweedmouth.
Integrated working with partner agencies, such as the county council, will proceed where appropriate but all the services will not be co-located on a single site.
Full details of the new plan are not yet available but intensive discussions are on-going with further announcements expected in the near future.
Jim Mackey, chief executive at Northumbria Healthcare said: “When we announced plans for a joint – integrated – site it was our intention that Berwick has a new and modern hospital – this remains the case.
“Equally, we are fully committed to investing £25million in the project. However, we are also committed to working with the community to make sure their particular concerns are addressed.
“Feedback from the public – and from our elected public governors – has been unequivocal on the question of co-location: they don’t want it. As such, we will now move forward with a separate site.”
Much of the feedback received from the public related to the provision of services at the proposed new Infirmary – with particular concern that there wasn’t enough on offer.
Mr Mackey responded: “Service provision at Berwick is something we take very seriously and wherever possible we are committed to bringing care as close to home as possible.
“Following feedback from the community it’s clear we need to reflect on this further. For instance, we don’t want people travelling for routine – relatively simple – procedures like pre-operative assessments. Equally, wherever possible, we need to make much more of an effort to offer more appointments at Berwick Infirmary to local residents.
“In both cases, we accept we could and should have done more and are committed to doing so in future.”
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, added: “The feedback from the people of Berwick is clear - they don’t want a co-located site - and we’re acting on that.
“We’re fully committed to making sure Berwick gets the very best, and I have promised that the county council will build a brand new state-of-the-art leisure facility on the Swan Centre site. We will keep our promise, and continue to listen to our residents through the planning stages.”
This announcement replaces previous plans for a joint site. Integrated and coordinated working will proceed where appropriate, but all the services will not be co-located on one site.
This followed strong representations by the three Berwick county councillors and the wider community. Following requests by the three local councillors, additional investment is also being considered for a potential extra care development alongside the new hospital. This would support provision of services to vulnerable and older people in Berwick.
Coun Jackson added: “After 50 years of inaction in Berwick, there will be £45 million invested in the town – our own investment of £20 million in a brand new state of the art leisure centre, and £25 million has been passed onto the Northumbria Healthcare Trust.”