Oxford

Wantage Community Hospital to stay open

The hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption A hospital spokeswoman said the site's pipework is old, corroded and hot water circulation is poor

Plans to close an Oxfordshire hospital because of an increased risk of Legionnaires' disease have been shelved after pressure from campaigners.

Wantage Community Hospital was scheduled to shut early in summer after raised levels of legionella bacteria were detected in its hot water system.

An online petition to save the hospital was signed by more than 3,900 people.

Oxford Health NHS trust has now said its midwifery and physiotherapy services will remain open.

Campaigners have said the trust should also reverse plans to close the hospital's 12 bed in-patient service.

The trust has said repairs to the hospital's old, corroded pipework, needed to reduce the legionella risk, will not go ahead until after a consultation in the autumn.

'Impossible to relocate patients'

A trust spokesperson said it had "listened to local concerns" and offered to continue running services where there is the least risk to patients.

But she added: "It remains necessary to close the 12-bed inpatient service to protect those people more exposed to legionella risk and who are typically the most vulnerable in the event of an outbreak.

"The inpatient service must be closed since it would be impossible to relocate these patients quickly if an emergency shutdown is required."

Emma Jones, who started the petition, said the hospital was "vital to local people".

The facility's long-term future will be decided after a public consultation later this year, which will also look at other NHS services across Oxfordshire.

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in water and if inhaled can lead to Legionnaires' disease, a potentially fatal type of pneumonia.

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