New Clitheroe hospital: more delays?

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A NEW multi-million pound hospital promised for Clitheroe could face further delays due to budget constraints.

Plans for the redevelopment of Clitheroe Community Hospital were given the go-ahead last September.

The revised LIFT scheme, along with similar projects in Colne and Great Harwood, was approved by NHS East Lancashire Primary Care Trust board members.

The go-ahead was given for a 4,000 sq. metre hospital to be built on land next to the existing Clitheroe Community Hospital with surplus land then sold off.

This decision was welcomed by residents in Clitheroe, who were previously devastated after being told plans for their purpose-built hospital had been shelved due to the economic downturn and constraints on NHS finances.

Pressure to retain and enhance services provided by the existing hospital, housed in what was originally Clitheroe’s workhouse, culminated in a 4,400-name “Save Clitheroe Hospital” petition presented to the Trust in April, 2011.

Campaigners are now anxious to hear when work will start on the new hospital. Health officials say plans have to be “drafted and presented” to NHS Lancashire Board before anything is finalised.

They are also looking closely at funding and undertaking a financial assessment to consider the affordability of the scheme. Until this is done, they cannot proceed to the next level.

In addition, with plans to scrap PCTs in 2013, the development must be approved by the NHS Lancashire cluster board and the new North of England Strategic Health Authority.

A spokesman for NHS East Lancashire said: “In September 2011, the Board of NHS East Lancashire recommended the scheme for new builds in Colne, Clitheroe and Great Harwood should progress subject to authorisation by NHS Lancashire, the Cluster PCT, and NHS North, the Cluster Strategic Health Authority.

“NHS East Lancashire began discussions with NHS Lancashire to explore the scope and content of a strategic outline business case for the scheme. This will, when drafted be presented to the NHS Lancashire Board. However, the business case cannot be finalised until a detailed financial assessment has been undertaken and considered. The financial assessment will help NHS Lancashire consider the affordability of the scheme in the light of the NHS Operating Framework for 2012/13 and related financial plans.

“The sum of money is still set aside, but until the financial position for NHS East Lancashire is confirmed for 2012/13 we cannot proceed to the next stage of development. Contract negotiations currently taking place for 2012/13 are critical to the final financial position for NHS East Lancashire. The PCT is keen that it does not leave a legacy of debt or financial challenge for the new NHS system when GP Commissioners lead commissioning from the 1st April 2013.

“NHS East Lancashire continues to be a legal body and statutorily responsible for commissioning services in East Lancashire until 2013. The dissolution of the PCT by 31st March 2013 is complicating matters as discussions are also taking place about ‘continuity’ in relation to PCT estate issues across the NHS.”