Campaigners fighting the proposed closure of the inpatient ward at Rothbury Community Hospital have put forward a last-ditch proposal to save it.
Objectors have submitted their vision to the NHS, as a three-month consultation run by Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to consider the fate of the 12 beds ended on Tuesday.
The ward has been closed since September due to ‘low usage’ and the NHS is proposing to permanently shut the facility and shape existing services around a Health and Wellbeing Centre on the hospital site.
But objectors have accused the CCG of ignoring the views of the community, which wants to retain the beds.
Instead, the Save Rothbury Hospital campaign group – which has criticised the ‘fatally flawed’ consultation – has put forward an alternative, called Coquetdale Cares – The Community’s Vision.
The proposal is to create a ‘hub for medical services covering a large part of rural Northumberland’, housed under one roof and retaining the beds.
The vision is to have the Rothbury Practice; community nurses and services; a paramedic; existing clinics; 12 community hospital beds and staff; possibly new clinics and a video connection; and links with local authority social services all on the hospital site.
A campaign group spokesman said: “Our campaign group has one clear objective; that the 12 inpatient beds be returned immediately for the people who need them. This is what Coquetdale Cares – The Community’s Vision is about.
“Our proposal is comprehensive and flexible. It ensures the maximum integration of services within one building which is modern and purpose built. It is a vision which is ideal for the people of Coquetdale for the foreseeable future.
“If the CCG re-opened the beds right now, then we’ll be more than happy to sit down with them to work out how to make their vision of the Health and Wellbeing Centre work, but with inpatient beds.”
The group wants the CCG to carry out a study, including costs, for the NHS proposal and the campaigners’ vision, so ‘a true comparison can be made between the two’.
The group added: “It’s in no-one’s interest to have to go to judicial review, but if that’s the way it has to go, then so be it.”
The CCG says a decision will be made by the summer.
To view the campaign group’s response to the CCG, click here